Lee Evans (comedian)
Lee Evans on 13 November 2004
Lee John Martin Evans
25 February 1964
|Occupation||Comedian, actor, musician, singer, writer|
|Years active||1994–2014, 2017-present|
Heather Nudds (m. 1984)
|Medium||Stand-up, film, television|
Lee John Martin Evans (born 25 February 1964) is a British stand-up comedian and actor from Avonmouth, England. He is a director of Little Mo Films, which he had co-directed with Addison Cresswell, who was also his agent prior to Cresswell's death in December 2013.
Evans became one of Britain's most popular stand-up comedians, with his "Roadrunner" tour grossing £12.9 million.  He is also an established actor, having appeared in the Hollywood films The Fifth Element (1997), Mouse Hunt (1997), There's Something About Mary (1998), The Ladies Man (2000) and The Medallion (2003). He lent his voice to "Zippo the Troodon" in the Emmy-nominated miniseries Dinotopia (2002) and made a notable departure from comedy with a leading role in the Irish film Freeze Frame (2004). He had made his cinema debut with the Jerry Lewis comedy Funny Bones (1995), earning the Paris Film Festival Award for Best Actor.
In 2008, Evans' Big tour DVD Big – Live at the O2 became the highest-selling Christmas DVD in the United Kingdom, only to be surpassed by his own Monsters Tour DVD in 2014. In November 2014 Evans officially announced his retirement. In 2018 Evans came out of retirement to star in a run of Harold Pinter's one-act play Monologue.
Evans was born in Avonmouth, Bristol, to an Irish mother, Shirley Hunt, and a Welsh father, Dave Evans. He has an older brother, Wayne (born 1962). His late father Dave was a comedian, musician and impressionist. His family left Bristol in 1975, moving to Essex, where he attended The Billericay School and reportedly was the victim of bullies. After a spell as a boxer and two years at Thurrock Art College, also in Essex, Evans followed his father into entertainment. During his teenage years, he moved to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and he was a drummer in a punk rock band called The Forgotten Five. His father Dave died on 10 June 2019.
Evans rose to fame during the 1990s with abrasive, exciting, sweaty, energetic stage performances and physical observational comedy. His slapstick humour has led to comparisons with Sir Norman Wisdom, though Evans does not regard Wisdom as an influence. In his earlier work, he used a dysfunctional character called Malcolm to illustrate unusual characters. In 1993, he won the Perrier Comedy Award for his work at the Edinburgh Festival.
Evans' sweat drenches him on stage. During most of his headlining performances, he often takes an intermission, during which he has a quick shower and changes into a different suit. He has also said that his suits are regularly thrown away after three performances, mainly because of the sweat, with dry-cleaners refusing to handle them. In November 2005, Evans broke the world record for a solo act performing to the biggest comedy audience, performing to 10,108 people at the Manchester Arena.
Evans toured the UK in autumn 2008 with his stand-up act entitled "Big". During his "Big" tour he performed in front of over 500,000 people on 59 dates. This was scheduled to involve the first-ever performance by a comedian at the O2 Arena in London until Chris Rock announced dates that would take place at the venue prior to Evans. The DVD was filmed at the O2 Arena, and was released on 24 November 2008. It became the best-selling comedy DVD in the UK for Christmas 2008, selling over 1,000,000 copies. Evans appeared on the Channel 4's Comedy Gala for Great Ormond Street Hospital on 30 March 2010. He was the last act on stage and he received a comedy award and auctioned it to the audience for charity.
Evans toured the UK again in 2011 with a new stand-up act entitled "Roadrunner", with 50 dates starting in Bournemouth in August, running until November in Cardiff. He appeared at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, on 10 June to test his new material for the "Roadrunner" tour. He then sold out Bristol's Colston Hall for three nights to perfect his routine in July. The tour visited most of the UK's major cities, plus two nights in Dublin, and included four nights in Wembley Arena and four in the O2 Arena, meaning around 100,000 seats in London alone. Tickets went on sale 15 October 2010 at 9 am.
Evans sold £7,000,000 worth of tickets the first day they went on sale. Due to popular demand, there were a further 17 dates added to the tour in Bournemouth International Centre, Brighton Centre, Motorpoint Arena Nottingham, Wembley Arena, National Indoor Arena, The O2 London, Liverpool Arena, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Odyssey Complex and The O2 Dublin. This brought the tour up to 67 dates in 14 cities which is 8 more than the record-breaking tour of 2008. In 2011, he was honoured by the British Comedy Awards with the Channel 4 award for special contribution to comedy.
In November 2014, Evans announced on The Jonathan Ross Show that he was retiring from stand-up comedy to spend more time with his wife Heather and daughter Mollie who was studying at the University of Florida.
Evans has made a number of film appearances, such as in Funny Bones, MouseHunt, There's Something About Mary (where he played an American posing as British), The Fifth Element, The Ladies Man, The Martins, The Medallion and Undertaking Betty. Evans provided the voice for Zippo in the 2002 TV miniseries Dinotopia and Train in the 2005 film The Magic Roundabout. From 1993–94, Evans appeared in the Channel 4 late-night show Viva Cabaret!, both as a host and as a guest performer. In 1995, he starred in Channel 4 series, The World of Lee Evans.
In 2004, he starred as a paranoid murder suspect in his first non-comic role in the film Freeze Frame. Although warned they may never grow back, he shaved his eyebrows (as well as his hair). In 2004, Evans appeared in Samuel Becket's Endgame, and from 2004 to 2005, he played Leo Bloom in the London production of The Producers along with Nathan Lane, with whom he also starred in MouseHunt. In 2007 he appeared in the 50th anniversary production of The Dumb Waiter. May 2007 saw him star in a television adaptation of the book The History of Mr. Polly.
In October 2017 Lee Evans came out of retirement to perform scenes from Shakespeare's plays in a one-off fundraiser along with Jack Whitehall in the play "Whither Would You Go?" at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London.
In 2001, he co-wrote and starred in the sitcom So What Now? for the BBC. Eight episodes were written in total.
He also has his own production company that produces his stand up DVDs called Little Mo Films, named after his daughter whom he often refers to as Little Mo.
|1996||Different Planet Tour||116|
|1998||Don't Try This At Home||100|
|2002||Wired and Wonderful||121|
- Not including "Work in progress" shows.
Box office score data
|Venue||City||Tickets sold / available||Gross revenue|
|The O2 Arena||London||88,037 / 93,432 (94%)||£4,119,760|
|Manchester Arena||Manchester||53,391 / 54,558 (98%)||£2,567,080|
|The O2||Dublin||17,733 / 17,733 (100%)||£861,649|
|TOTAL||159,161 / 165,723 (97%)||£7,548,489|
|1994||Live at Her Majesty's Theatre||Her Majesty's Theatre, London|
|1995||Live From The West End||Lyric Theatre, London|
|1996||Live – Different Planet Tour|
|1998||Live in Scotland||Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh|
|2002||Wired And Wonderful – Live at Wembley||Wembley Arena, London|
|2005||XL Tour – Live||International Arena, Cardiff|
|2008||Big – Live at the O2||The O2 Arena, London|
|2011||Roadrunner – Live at the O2|
|2014||Monsters – Live||Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham|
|1995||The World of Lee Evans||Lee||Writer|
|1998||Clair de Lune||Pete|
|2001||So What Now?||Lee||Writer|
|2002||Dinotopia||Zippo (a Troodon)||Voice|
|2007||The History of Mr Polly||Alfred Polly|
|2007||The Dinner Party||Leo|
|2009||Doctor Who||Dr. Malcolm Taylor||Episode: "Planet of the Dead"|
|1995||Funny Bones||Jack Parker|
|1997||The Fifth Element||Fog|
|1998||There's Something About Mary||Tucker/Norm Phipps|
|2000||The Ladies Man||Barney|
|2001||The Martins||Robert Martin|
|2002||Plots with a View (a.k.a. Undertaking Betty)||Delbert Butterfield|
|2003||The Medallion||Arthur Watson|
|2004||Freeze Frame||Sean Veil|
|2005||The Magic Roundabout||Train||Voice|
|2004–2005||The Producers||Leo Bloom|
|2007||The Dumb Waiter||Gus|
|2013–2014||Barking in Essex||Darnley Packer|
|2017||Whither Would You Go?|
Accolades and awards
In 2010, Evans received an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts at the University of East London's graduation ceremony.
|British Comedy Award||
|Paris Film Festival||
|Edinburgh Comedy Award||
|Time Out Comedy Awards||
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- 'All I've ever felt on stage is pain', Daily Telegraph, 25 October 2004, "I saw his films as a kid. It surprises me because if you watch my act it's nothing like his really."
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