Craig Campbell looks like a lumberjack and has been described as the “outdoor adventurer” of UK comedy.
The Canadian born comic rafts, mountain bikes, snow boards and recently got his pilot license. Standup it appears is one of the few things he does inside, and even then he frequently appears on stage in shorts and hiking boots.
Campbell’s material is observational, and he tells stories rather than jokes. His stories often revolve around his travels, allowing him to do impersonations of different nationalities.
“I put together a lot of ingredients that lead to rich punchlines,” he says.
Campbell can’t believe at the age of 40 he’s more popular than he’s ever been.
“It’s crazy,” he said this week as he opened his new show Craig Campbell Live at what is his fourth New Zealand Comedy Festival. “To kick off at my age is totally unreal.”
And he’s barely had time to touch the ground. Campbell spent most of 2010 supporting Scottish Comedian Frankie Boyle on an extensive UK tour, performing to a combined audience of 550,000 people. His own solo tour quickly followed, and continues after his week-long stint at the New Zealand festival. Then he’s off with Boyle again in June before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform with old fellow Canadian comics Stewart Francis and Glenn Wool as The Lumberjacks. His Snowed In comedy Tour will follow, 25 shows in 20 different locations across Canada, and then a tour of Europe during the northern hemisphere winter.
“I’ve worked out the next time I have anything like free time will be April 2014. It’s just crazy busy.”
And it’s not as though he doesn’t like home. He moved from Canada to Devon, England in the early 2000s where he lives with three horses, a couple of cats and a woman who he says “puts on enough of an appearance to love me.”
“I’ve an incredible home life. I just wish I could spend more time there.”
He says he’s always been into comedy and cites American comedian Robin Williams as an early inspiration.
“I always made my friends laugh in school, though in those days I was more polite. Nobody likes a big mouth.”
He first entered a comedy competition at the age of 19 in 1989.
“I came second to two guys doing female genitalia impersonations with their belly buttons so I thought that was the standard I have to get up to.”
He says he decided to be a fulltime comic when he realised he could make more money than he could possibly relate to simply by telling tales.
His Wellington show is a hybrid of the show he’s just toured to sell out crowds in England.
“It’s really the greatest hits of a two hour show ,” Campbell says.
Craig Campbell in Craig Campbell Live, San Francisco Bathhouse, to May 19