Josh Widdicombe is returning to what he loves best – getting worked up about the small annoyances in life – live on stage.

The serial panellist and star of shows including The Last Leg, Hypothetical and his own sitcom Josh is, first and foremost, a stand-up comedian.

“For the first time since I started doing stand up, I had some time off,” he says. “I absolutely needed it. I’d been doing stand up for eight years, and I’d kind of forgotten why I was doing it and why I enjoyed it.”

Now he’s rediscovered his love of the art form, and wants to make the new show a distillation of the very best he’s capable of.

“I wanted to do the best ‘pure me’ stand up show, and see if I could do 80 minutes that was just – ‘unremitting’ is probably the wrong word,” he laughs. “But I like the idea of a show being almost relentless. I think when you watch Michael McIntyre, it feels relentless.”

What that has meant is a laser-like focus on eliminating mediocrity, dumping any joke that doesn’t come up to scratch before he takes the show out on the road.

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“In the warm ups if I’m not loving anything, I just drop it straight away. You know that Marie Kondo woman who says get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy? I think that’s a really good way of writing a stand-up show. It’s like getting rid of the album tracks.” So if it was a record, everything that’s left would be good enough to be released as a single? “That’s what the aim is.”

While he’s focused on quality control, he isn’t reinventing himself on this tour. If you like what he does, then rest assured that’s what you’re going to get. Premium quality observational comedy, served up with an incredible eye for detail and an inexhaustible capacity for indignation.

Don’t expect him to be banging on about Trump or Brexit – Widdicombe’s much more exercised by the smaller things in life, the everyday annoyances that drive us all to distraction.

“That’s what makes me laugh, do you know what I mean? It’s different strokes for different folks, but I’d much rather watch Frank Skinner or Sean Lock than I’d watch a highly politicised hour of stand up, just because that’s what I’m into really.”

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Tonight he plays the New Theatre Oxford. Is it more difficult playing such a big theatre than the comedy clubs where he started out?

“Oh, it’s a lot more fun these days,” he says. “The absurdity of stand-up is that when you start you’re at your worst, and the gigs are the toughest! It just gets easier, because you’ve got people that want to come and see you now, and you know what you’re doing. That first two years, it’s about getting over that.”

So now that he’s made it, what kind of glamorous life does a touring comedy star enjoy?

He admits there’s precious little excess or debauchery. “It’s a lot of sitting in a car with my tour manager and the support. Let me put it this way – last time on tour, the most extreme it got was we would have a running £5 wager on what the next band playing on Radio X would be.”

Still, there are occasional perks. “I’m obsessed with hotel breakfasts. That’s the real excitement.

On TV, Josh is best known for his contributions to panel games – as a regular on Mock The Week, a captain on Insert Name Here, and a co-host (alongside James Acaster) of Dave’s Hypothetical. Why does he thrive in that kind of environment?

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“I just really enjoy it,” he says. “Mainly, it’s having a laugh with your mates. My favourite panel shows are the ones where you’re all having a laugh and you’re just in the moment. Reacting in the room rather than trying to get your jokes out. And it’s a lovely way to earn a living, it’s as simple as that.”

So he doesn’t have a bucket list of career ambitions. “I don’t think I’ve got any kind of weird dreams,” he says. “Like, I wouldn’t suddenly go, ‘Yeah, actually, my dream is to be in EastEnders.’ Or ‘my dream is to present Location, Location, Location.’ I don’t want to be the next James Bond or anything like that.

“Though if it was offered, I would take it!”

Josh Widdicombe brings his show ‘Bit Much…’ to the New Theatre Oxford tonight.

Also see Josh on Channel 4’s The Last Leg. The show started out as late night filler during the 2012 Paralympics, and has gradually become a comedy heavyweight. He stars alongside Adam Hills and Alex Brooker and has featured everyone from Al Gore to Jeremy Corbyn.