IT has been 13 years since Ben Elton last stepped on stage at the Parr Hall and it is safe to say the world has changed a fair bit since then.

On the brink of Brexit, the UK could not be more divided and across the pond Donald Trump has introduced a brash approach to US politics.

And that is partly why the former Saturday Live host is returning to observational stand-up – the medium he helped shape – as he attempts to make sense of a world which he thinks may well be ‘clinically insane’.

Ben, who was behind sitcoms like The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Thin Blue Line, said: “I feel very strongly that if ever there was a time to get out there and have a go about what’s going on in the world – to celebrate the good and castigate the bad – that time is now.

“ I hope you’ll be aware that my tongue is firmly in my cheek when I say: ‘I’m back because I’m needed.

“But you do feel, with the sort of comedy I do, it is probably more worth doing now than it was in what we perhaps wrongly thought of as the comfy and safe years.

“In the days of Blair and Major, politics seemed quite centre ground.

“But things have got polarised again now, as polarised as they were in the days of Thatcher and Kinnock, and that’s an exciting time to be a comedian.”

Ben wants to keep his fans laughing but at the same time the dad-of-three said he has never been more concerned about the future.

He added: “We are involved in a battle of ideas that could very easily cost the Earth.

“But you can’t despair.

“You have to stay engaged. And of course, see the funny side – that’s my job.”

Ben also said that reconnecting with fans is the ‘ultimate recharge’.

The 60-year-old said: “We all live such isolated lives, staring at our screens, stroking and prodding our phones, cut off by our ear phones.

“I think that’s why live gigs have got so popular – everybody wants to reconnect and get in touch with humanity, their own and everybody else’s.

“It’s the ultimate recharge. Meeting people who appreciate what you’re trying to do. Exchanging ideas with them.”

Then again the ‘godfather of modern stand-up’ has a lot to live up to. Is Ben nervous?

He added: “Two hours of new gear to an audience who are all wondering if I can still cut it?

“Why would I be nervous? Of course I’m flipping nervous!”

The 66-date tour begins in Dublin on September 27 and reaches Parr Hall on October 19.

Ben, who has also written a number of successful musicals including the smash hit We Will Rock You, based on the band Queen, said: “I spend most of my working life in front of a computer screen, so it’s going to be fantastic to be back on the road visiting every part of the country.

“Our nest has finally emptied, so I’m freed from the tyranny of having to make school lunches at seven in the morning while the kids try to kill each other and my wife struggles to match socks and assemble sports kits.

“I’ve certainly missed the soft gentle hum of a hotel mini bar.”

Having the chance to close the laptop and live in the moment is something Ben has also missed.

The author of 15 novels, including six UK number one bestsellers, added: “Every second is unique.

“There’s such a special intimacy between you and the audience, which just doesn’t occur when you do comedy on TV or in a film.

“It’s not the sort of buzz I imagine a rock singer gets, strutting about and thrusting the loins.

“It’s all about the words, the ideas. For me a gig is a meeting of minds, almost a dialogue.

“Not literally, I hasten to add.

“When it comes to heckling, I’m a zero-tolerance comic.

“But laughter is the other half of the conversation.

“It means I’ve got my idea across, made myself understood.

“That’s a real buzz.”

Ben admits that doing 66 shows will takes its toll though.

He said: “It’s exciting, of course, but also tense and very demanding.

“I’m weaving a lot of ideas together, trying to communicate quite complicated thoughts in a supposedly hilarious manner.

“I’m too focused on getting the material across to have fun – I’m at work after all.

“I’ll enjoy it afterwards, when I can have a beer or two knowing that a whole bunch of people have let me live in their heads for an evening and hopefully are glad they did.”

In our troubled times, Ben might not have all the answers but wrapped by revealing what he hopes audiences will take away from the show.

He added: “The happy sensation that no matter how much crap we’re in, we’re all in it together...”

Ben Elton is at Parr Hall on Saturday, October 19. Tickets are available priced £32.25. Visit or call 442345