Over three decades ago, Ben Elton stormed onto the national stage as the electrifying host of Channel 4’s pioneering programme, Saturday Live. Now, after a 15-year gap, Ben is coming back to the medium he was so instrumental in shaping. The ground-breaking comic will be touring the country with an all-new stand-up show – Ben Elton Live 2019 - in which he attempts to make sense of a world which may well be clinically insane.

His 66-date tour began in Dublin on 27 September and will visit every corner of the UK, including Watford Colosseum on Monday, December 16.

Ben is a coruscating live presence, a wonderfully charismatic bundle of energy fizzing with brilliant ideas and even more brilliant jokes

Ben, 60, is just as captivating in person. Chatting to me in the run-up to the tour, in typical fashion he kicks off with a joke. When I ask him if he feels nervous about coming back after a decade and a half away from stand-up, he deadpans: “Nah. Two hours of brand-new gear to an audience who are all wondering if I can still cut it? Why would I be nervous? Of course I’m flipping nervous!”

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A multi-talented artist who is also a bestselling novelist, award-winning playwright and acclaimed feature film writer and director, Ben proceeds to explain what has drawn him back to stand-up comedy.

“Our nest has finally emptied, so I’m freed from the tyranny of having to make school lunches at seven in the morning.”

Ben, who has also written some of the best-loved sitcoms of recent decades, including The Young Ones, Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line and Upstart Crow, goes on to underline quite how thrilled he is to be back in the live arena.

“I spend most of my working life in front of a computer screen, so it’s going to be fantastic to be back on the road visiting every part of the country.”

He stresses that live comedy gives him a rush that no other art form can match.

“A stand-up gig is absolutely in the moment. Every second is unique. There’s such a special intimacy between you and the audience, which just doesn’t occur when you do comedy on TV or in a film.

“It’s not the sort of buzz I imagine a rock singer gets, strutting about and thrusting the loins. It’s all about the words, the ideas. For me a gig is a meeting of minds, almost a dialogue. Not literally, I hasten to add! When it comes to heckling, I’m a zero-tolerance comic. But laughter is the other half of the conversation. It means I’ve got my idea across, made myself understood. That’s a real buzz.”

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The comedian has made his name as a very trenchant commentator on current affairs. So now, when the world appears to be going stark raving mad, is a very good moment for a stand-up with such acute political antennae to be making his return.

Ben observes that: “I feel very strongly that if ever there was a time to get out there and have a go about what’s going on in the world – to celebrate the good and castigate the bad - that time is now.

“You do feel, with the sort of comedy I do, it is probably more worth doing now than it was in what we perhaps wrongly thought of as the comfy and safe years. In the days of Blair and Major, politics seemed quite centre ground. But things have got polarised again now, as polarised as they were in the days of Thatcher and Kinnock, and that’s an exciting time to be a comedian.”

The world is certainly in a precarious place at the moment. Ben emphasises that the threats posed by President Trump, climate change and Brexit worry him deeply.

“I’ve never been more concerned about the future. We are involved in a battle of ideas that could very easily cost the Earth. But you can’t despair! You have to stay engaged. And of course, see the funny side - that’s my job.”

The other thing that Ben is really looking forward to is reconnecting with his legions of stand-up fans during the tour.

“It’s the ultimate recharge. Meeting people who appreciate what you’re trying to do. Exchanging ideas with them.

“We all live such isolated lives, staring at our screens, stroking and prodding our phones, cut off by our earphones. I think that’s why live gigs have got so popular - everybody wants to reconnect and get in touch with humanity, their own and everybody else’s.”

Ben is reluctant to name specific subjects he will be addressing in the show, but what he does say is that: “I’ll be covering anything and everything as I always do. I never like to talk about actual subjects because it never sounds funny.

“It’s like if you asked Van Gogh, ‘What subjects do you like to paint?’, and he said, ‘I thought maybe a small vase of sunflowers,’ you’d think, ‘Blimey, that sounds a bit boring’. It’s all in the treatment and the delivery.”

You can rest assured, however, that whatever topic Ben chooses to tackle, the result will be hilarious.

Watford Colosseum, Rickmansworth Road, Watford, Monday, December 16, 7.30pm. Details: 01923 571102 watfordcolosseum.co.uk