MUSICAL satirist Mitch Benn has been going through a morbid time, so no surprise that Saturday's gig at Selby Town Hall will be about death and mortality.
"It's the one thing that unites us and yet the one thing we don't want to talk about, so I thought I'd crack a bunch of jokes and sing some songs about it," says Benn, ahead of this weekend's Don’t Fear The Reaper show.
He turned 47 in January – over the hill by anyone's standards, he says – his personal life is in turmoil and his childhood heroes are dropping like flies. At times like these, a man feels the Reaper creeping up on him, but is death anything to fear?
"I don't really think about it in terms of my own mortality; I just get on with it, but there is that thing of how fast time goes," says Benn. "My dad died last year just after the show's Edinburgh run; he died the day after his 80th birthday in his own bed, and I'd been wondering if it was going to happen during the time I was in Edinburgh.
"There I was in Edinburgh, and my dad was dying in Liverpool: one of the most precious people to me in my life was on his way out, so I'll address that in the show. Is death anything to fear? I don't think being dead is anything to fear. One of the things we took comfort from when my dad was dying was that it was a slowly degenerative death, whereas the worse death is a sudden one, when nothing can prepare you for that."
Benn's father had gone back to university before he died to do a degree in fine art and history of art. "In his garden shed, he had all his art stuff laid out when he was doing the course, which was lovely to see," Benn recalls.
There was a sad realisation too. "Suddenly it hit him he wouldn't be around to experience what his grandchildren would be doing, after seeing a beautiful picture by his granddaughter," says Benn.
Death can release what Benn calls "weirdly sentimental gallows humour". "That bleak Scouse black humour comes out," he says. "I've found that, coming from Liverpool, it often comes out at funerals. An 'inappropriate joke' is always a way to break the sadness at such an occasion."
Mitch Benn: Don't Fear The Reaper, Selby Town Hall, Saturday, 8pm; doors open at 7.30pm. Box office: 01757 708449 or at selbytownhall.co.uk