UPBEAT, warm and engaging, it’s impossible to imagine Tom Allen having a bad day.

The award-winning comedian, writer and actor bubbles with excitement – and it’s infectious.

Within seconds of chatting to him, I’m in stitches. While most comedians slip in and out of character, Tom is his stage persona – dapper, quick-witted and deliciously camp.

“I’m good, I’m well… I’m busy but that’s nice,” he says as he takes time to chat before heading back out on the road for a tour which on Sunday reaches the Oxford’s Playhouse.

The sharp-dressed comic has become a familiar faces on our screens, cropping up on Live at the Apollo, Mock the News, 8 Out of 10 Cats and appearing on a Royal Variety Performance. Oh, and is indulging his love of cake by hosting Channel 4’s Bake Off: The Professionals.

It is the live shows which excite him now though, he says. “I love it all, but playing a room is very different to everything else,” he says.

“You want to create an atmosphere. And you are allowed to do things only a few people will get, which is nice. I get to build on my long love of innuendo!

“There’s a long tradition of that, going back to Kenneth Williams, Larry Grayson and further back to Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde.

“Camp comedy exists outside the mainstream. It’s about someone in a position of vulnerability being able to fight back and have a go – and there’s something empowering in that.

“Comedy allows you to form a connection with people, about shared experiences and moments in life.”

Hailed by Attitude magazine as a gay role model, Tom makes no secret of his sexuality, deciding to confront his critics head-on after a homophobic incident in London’s Soho, when he was verbally abused while out with a partner. He came out with both barrels blazing.

“Someone told me to always turn up and say ‘I’m gay’ and never apologise.

“I wasn’t courageous enough to come out when I younger but the world is a different place than it was when I was 13.

"When I did the Royal Variety Performance and said ‘So I’m gay…’ it wasn’t because people might not accept it, but because I felt it was important. It’s such a big event and is watched in so many different places, and I felt it was important to be myself.”

Now 35, Tom made his first foray into comedy aged 22, going on to win ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ in Edinburgh and the BBC New Comedy Awards in the same year.

His hilarious storytelling revolves around his domestic life in Bromley, South London, where he still lives with his mum. It’s wonderfully English, a twist on the cosy image of leafy suburbia.

And, he insists, none of it is a lie. He really does live at home (“How can I afford not to?”) and even though he has found some freedom after passing his driving test, he says the insurance is so expensive he’s been added to his mum and dad’s policy for their Ford Fiesta Zetec (1.5 litre engine, 2006, five door, maroon, boot doesn’t close). His experience on the roads adds another rich strand to his routines.

He admits he was born to be an entertainer.

“I was very theatrical as a child – and very good at table decorations,” he laughs. “The signs were there…

“My mum has always been funny and was obsessed with comedians and I also loved seeing them in theatres when we were on holiday at the seaside.

“But stand-up used to be dominated by strong blokes and was a very aggressive environment, so I tried to be an actor. I wasn’t getting much traction though, so a friend said I should try stand-up – and I found it very empowering.”

He had found his calling in life.

“Comedy is about showing the audience a world which is different to theirs and seeing the world from your shoes,” he says. “The skill is about getting people to say ‘Okay, I’ll come with you.”

While garrulous and eloquent, he insists he had to learn to be confident.

“I’ve always felt an outsider,” he admits.

“I don’t know if it’s the ‘gay’ thing but I have always felt different and spoke differently. I’ve always had a posh voice which isn’t the same as my parents’!

“I’ve always been slightly odd, but you can use that to your advantage and run with it.

“There were points in my life where I wanted to hide away or run away. But we can either run from what makes us vulnerable or run towards it.

“None of us are here for a long time – we are only here for a good time.

“What a waste a half-lived life would be? All the people I’ve looked up to in entertainment have had to struggle.

“They are saying ‘the world made me insecure but I’m still here’. I didn’t know that we are allowed to be who we are.”

Tom is a serious talker. Even if I’d wanted to, I’d have struggled to get a word in edgeways. It’s no surprise he was such a success on long-running Radio 4 game show Just a Minute. He has also cropped up on Radio 4’s Sony Award-winning Beak Expectations, starred alongside Joanna Lumley, Julia Davis and The League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss, appeared in films Colour Me Kubrick with John Malkovich, Starter for Ten with James McEvoy and the Stephen Frears film, Tamara Drewe, and, of course, proved a hit on tour, supporting Sarah Millican, Josh Widdicombe, Romesh Ranganathan and Michael McIntyre – and performing his own show ‘Absolutely’ which is going down a storm.

“Maybe the ‘fabulous’ is built in, in more ways than we realise,” he ponders.

“I always think it’s sad when people say you’re over the top.

“I don’t know where the top is!”

• Tom Allen plays the Oxford Playhouse on Sunday. Tickets from oxfordplayhouse.com