Lloyd Griffith interview: ‘The show is about me trying to sing the National Anthem before an England game at Wembley...’
Comedian, presenter, actor, professional singer and football fan Lloyd Griffith was due to perform in Cambridge last year, but then the pandemic happened. Now it’s back on.
When we last spoke to Grimsby’s favourite comedian, choirboy and (still) ‘aspiring’ goalkeeper Lloyd Griffith in early 2020, he was looking forward to going out on tour but, unsurprisingly, the nationwide jaunt was cut short by you-know-what after just a few dates.
One of the gigs that had to be postponed was the Cambridge Junction on March 17, 2020, but now the Jack Black look-alike and former host of Sky’s Soccer AM – who has also branched out into acting – will finally be bringing his Not Just A Pretty Face tour to the same venue next month. Better late than never!
Lloyd, who supported Jack Whitehall on his Stood Up UK and Ireland arena 2019-2020 tour (Jack invited him to last year’s BRIT Awards but he was on tour), remembered our first conversation.
“I think I remember where I was stood when I was chatting to you – I was at the top of Regent Street [in London], just outside an itsu... It was still around, the virus, in its infancy, and I think that year I’d started [the tour] in February. February 13 was my first date – I think it was Hull... Then I managed to do maybe 10 dates of the tour and then that was it, it just stopped.
“I did an event for Sport Relief on TV, I think it was [Friday] March 13, just before it really properly kicked off. We were doing this Sport Relief thing and I was having to save penalties – I was in goal for 12 hours – and it was all quite nice and jovial but then there was the rolling news where an LED screen was going around Salford Plaza saying, ‘Oh, the world’s about to end’ and we were all there kind of pretending that nothing was happening.
“I cancelled my show in Belfast on the Sunday [March 15] because I didn’t fancy flying and then obviously it all kind of stopped the week after. It was a bit annoying because it was a fully sold-out tour that I was well into, that was getting better as the days were going on, and then bang!”
Noting that he’s “just grateful to be working again”, Lloyd, 37, continues: “It’s finally nice that it looks like, touch wood, we’re able to go back on tour. We were able to gig in between the two lockdowns last year, then gigging has happened in some capacity this year...
“But then in the last month it’s just been great, mentally more than anything, just being able to go back to doing what I’ve done for the last 10 years, and that is telling jokes at night time and travelling the length and breadth of the M1.
“Last week, I went from Grimsby to Lincoln to Middlesbrough to Barnard Castle to Grimsby to Liverpool to London, so I covered a fair whack and absolutely wouldn’t change it for the world.”
That trip was Lloyd previewing the show, as the Not Just A Pretty Face tour actually starts in Birmingham on September 1. Cambridge, on the following day, is the second date.
“What I’m doing until then is essentially just previewing it, trying out newer bits of material – the show has had to change a little bit because of various things that have happened. The show is about me trying to sing the National Anthem before an England game at Wembley, so we obviously had a tournament which would have been a perfect opportunity for that but you’ll have to come and see the show to see the results...”
Although he has made a few changes to the show, Lloyd, a keen golfer who says he played a lot of “indoor golf with ping-pong balls during lockdown” – and then a lot of ‘actual golf’ when we were all allowed out – doesn’t “go on about what’s happened in the last 18 months, because I really do believe that comedy is escapism”.
He adds: “If I go and watch comedians, which I do every now and then, I do like to just forget about the outside world. Leave all your worries and fears at the door, let’s have fun for a few hours and then worry about the outside when you leave – and hopefully people leave happier than when they turned up.”
Not Just A Pretty Face explores Lloyd’s childhood dreams of becoming a footballer – “but it never happened, for various reasons” – and his 30-year career as a professional choir singer. “The show is about me trying to combine the two loves of football and singing,” he says, “and hopefully trying to sing the National Anthem one day, before an England game. So that’s it really, but with jokes.”
On the subject of football, I ventured an opinion – not that I’m an expert by any means – that it was a strange choice of penalty takers in the European Championship final against Italy last month. “Not really, I mean they’re all professional footballers, they play at the highest level,” says Lloyd. “I think people were just clutching at straws as to why we lost.
“I had full faith in Gareth Southgate for the whole of the tournament, and he came out and said, ‘Yeah, it’s on me’, but I don’t know why we should be questioning that. The people that took the penalties said they wanted to take a penalty... and also as well it’s finite.
“They played for 120 minutes and then it goes down to five kicks of a ball. It’s miniscule of hitting a post and it going in and hitting a post and going wide, so I don’t blame those players – we wouldn’t be able to do any better, and none of us would have been able to get that team to the final but Gareth Southgate did.
“So I don’t agree with the criticism of penalty takers. It is what it is – they’re all professional footballers and it’s just sad that what happened happened in the aftermath.”
As an aspiring goalkeeper, who is Lloyd’s goalkeeping hero? “Peter Schmeichel,” he says. “Absolutely in love with the bloke – still am now. As I’m speaking to you, there is a picture of him on my wall. Growing up, he was just my absolute icon. I had pictures of him then on my wall, I still do now.
“I think he’s the best Premier League goalkeeper we’ve ever seen – maybe the best goalkeeper in the world, just this huge great Dane of a man.”
Since his last live tour, All Rounder, in 2019, Lloyd has fronted Can You Beat the Bookies? (BBC Three) and co-hosted action comedy gameshow Flinch for Netflix. He has also branched out more into acting, appearing in the TV series It’s A Sin, Apple TV’s comedy series Ted Lasso, and the BBC One sitcom Not Going Out. He also features in the 2021 films, Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break and Infinite, starring Mark Wahlberg.
Other TV appearances include Jonathan Ross’ Comedy Club, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Richard Osman’s House of Games, The Stand Up Sketch Show, The Premier League Show and Songs of Praise. “I’d done a fair amount of acting in 2019,” he explains, “it just so happens that it’s all kind of coming out now... I branched out, I’d say, about two or three years ago into acting.
“So It’s A Sin, I had a little cameo in that, I have a recurring role in Ted Lasso series one and two – it’s great to be part of such a successful, feelgood show – and I was then really shocked to be part of an episode of Not Going Out; Lee Mack is one of my all-time heroes so to be invited to be on that sitcom was an absolute dream.
“And a few other things coming up... a film with Mark Wahlberg that I think has been released in America but it’s coming out in England later on this year. Acting is one thing that I’ve always wanted to do and only in the last three years have I been able to concentrate on it.”
As a singer, Lloyd can often be heard performing with the choirs of Westminster Abbey, St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and various other London groups. He subsequently has a wide knowledge and passion for the UK’s finest cathedrals and choral music.