COMEDIAN Mark Steel has made a name for himself as the guy who comes to where you live, unearths quirky facts and comprehensively takes the mickey.

His Mark Steel Comes to Town shows are hilarious dissections of the idiosyncrasies of our communities, made all the funnier when relayed back to us by a wry outsider.

Now Mark is coming back to town, but this time the focus is not on us – but him.

With the world in turmoil, extremism and populism on the rise, a president generally considered to be an utter buffoon in the White House, a weak minority government at home and comic blundering over our exit from the European Union, we are living in what can only be described as uncertain times.

On top of all that, Mark has recently got divorced.

Hardly a firm foundation for comedy then?

On the contrary, he insists, it couldn’t be better.

“There are loads of reasons to be cheerful,” he says. “You’ve got to laugh.

“What’s going on in the world seems to be of much more interest to people than it was a couple of years ago. When things are going horribly wrong people are inspired to want to hear more about it.

“There’s a sense that everything could be changing – and that every little thing’s gonna’ be alright.”

Which, incidentally, is the name of the show, which he brings to the Oxford Playhouse on Saturday.

“When you see people running the country in disarray, messing everything up and not being able to get through a speech without coughing and spluttering, you’ve got to laugh.

“We are going down the pan in a funny way. The people in charge haven’t got a clue what’s going on.”

He recounts with incredulity the story of Brexit Secretary David Davis turning up for negotiations without his notes, joking that he probably instead produced his MOT certificate and a ham sandwich.

“He and Boris Johnson are making the biggest decisions to affect this country for 50 years,” he snorts. “It’s like finding an unexploded bomb and sending round Paul Gascoigne and a kangaroo!

“Then there’s Trump. It would be easy to make jokes about him, but he does it for real – like deciding to arm teachers.

“This is a show about what is going on in the world and me – and trying to figure it all out.”

He admits it’s all a departure from his Comes to Town shows, which he brought to Oxford and Chipping Norton. “It was great fun doing that,” he says. “And while the radio series will go on, I couldn’t just keep doing that. I’d be going back to places and thinking how am I going to find something new? I’d have to start making things up – like a mayor of Oxford was the world’s first transsexual, or the university was built by pole vaulters... that sort of thing.

“Some people believe the most stupid things. I told an intelligent, highly educated friend that there was more salt in a pound of sugar than in a pound of salt – and he believed it. I mean, it can’t be true. How can it be?

“But the more stupid the fact, the more people will believe it. Try it! Tell people there is more wine in a wine gum than a bottle of wine. That’s true!”

Chatting to Mark is a pure delight – like being treated to your own bespoke stand-up show. You can practically hear the cogs spinning in his head; his energy and surreal sense of humour are infectious – that same dry wit which has made him a favourite not only hosting his own shows, such as the sell-out Who Do I Think I Am (in which he revealed that his natural father was a world backgammon champion) and his BAFTA-nominated Mark Steel Lectures, but also as a guest on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, BBC One’s Have I Got News For You BBC2’s QI and Room 101.

Does the uncertain state of the world make it an easier place for comedy to flourish?

“Comedy is not getting easier,” he says. “Just as Germany in 1935 probably wasn’t a peak time for comedy. But you have to laugh.”

And the divorce: how does he find humour in what must have been a harrowing experience.

“It is funny,” he says. “You have to go to a mediator – and God forbid those people ever have to do anything serious. They were the most awful people – exactly how you’d think mediators would be – with that patronising voice. But you can’t help but find these things funny.”

“You can make a joke about anything – everything’s game.”

  • Mark Steel’s Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright. Oxford Playhouse. Saturday. Go to