ENGAGING, eloquent and endearingly self-effacing, it is impossible not to love comedian Miles Jupp.

A razor-sharp comic, he radiates effortless charm and humility, more often than not making himself the butt of his elegantly-delivered jokes.

His genuine, quintessentially British humour has made him a hit on stage, screen and radio, seeing him holding forth on the likes of Have I Got News for You, Would I Lie To You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Radio 4’s The News Quiz and with his own stand-up sets.

For his latest show, however, it was unclear whether we were in for a night of laughs or tears.

In a bold departure from anything remotely resembling a standard comedy routine, Miles bares his soul with an account of what he admits was the scariest moment of his life – a shock brain seizure brought on by a tumour – and subsequent neurosurgery.

In the hands of anyone else it could have been a gloomy night out. From Miles, though, his gig at a sold-put Oxford Playhouse on January 16, was joyful and utterly hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong, the show, which he has titled ‘On I Bang’ tells a shocking tale, but the trauma and fear are tempered with heartfelt humour, disarming honesty and very funny insights which pick out the ridiculous, comical and surreal nature of the ordeal.

With amusing observations, sincere recollections of his own bemusement and good old gallows humour, a terrifying account of a life-threatening nightmare is spun into a captivating and frequently side-splitting saga.

Oxford Mail: Miles Jupp triumphs over adversity

Miles – who as an actor has charmed in shows and films as diverse as kids’ TV favourite Balamory, sweary political satire The Thick of It, The Durrells, the Full Monty series and, briefly, in Harry Potter and Napoleon – is a master storyteller.

Rather than dive headfirst into the scary stuff, the father-of-five warms us up and sets the scene with a touching insight into his apparently chaotic family life through the prism of a daytrip to the Welsh coast peppered with moments of exquisite embarrassment and and trademark awkwardness.

Then, once he has us grinning, he hits us with the hard stuff.

Miles’s stage persona encompasses that of the posh, expensively-educated bumbler, but also the frustrated everyman all to willing to air relatable petty grievances. He delights in taking us on diversions on such pressing issues as the impossibility in getting through to his utility companies on the phone, the constant battle with puke from his carsick kids, or minor showbiz ‘grudges’.

The genius is in the delivery. What at first seems rambling is precisely structured and phrased.

The room was full yet his understated, candid retelling of a profoundly personal chain of events felt intimate, conspiratorial and, at times, confessional. It shouldn’t be funny, but it absolutely was.

Oxford Mail: Miles Jupp. Image by Will BoaseMiles Jupp. Image by Will Boase

His attention to detail make it all the more alarming and amusing– from his description of the beautiful colours which accompanied his collapse onto a ground which appeared to moving away at breakneck speed, to being repeatedly asked by medical staff if he knew why he was there – and if he could “name the American president who was shot?” There were actually four, he points out, though always gave them the name he knew they wanted.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to relive, night after night before an audience of strangers, an episode which could have either killed him or left him badly damaged. Though, as he points out, after a ‘spoiler warning’ – he made it and survived to tell the tale.

It is a mark of his great talent that he tells his tale with such honesty, gratitude and, above all, humour.

We left the Playhouse shocked, moved, full of admiration for the NHS, and, crucially, smiling from ear to ear.

  • Miles Jupp's On I Bang, is touring the country. See milesjupp.co.uk