JASPER Carrott "didn’t really know" Alistair McGowan before the two titans of comedy arranged to share evenings together on tour, playing York Barbican on Monday night.

"We may have met briefly, but they put us together at the Henley Festival," recalls Jasper, the 73-year-old comedian, singer, presenter and writer from Acocks Green, Birmingham. "There was a tent with 800 seats, and they didn’t have anything to put on. They asked me, but at that stage, I didn’t fully have my act up and running with the material. I said I didn’t want to do the whole thing, and so they asked would I share with Alistair McGowan."

As in, Alistair McGowan, the 53-year-old impressionist, comic, actor, singer and writer from Evesham, Surrey. "And the great thing is that I have got a bit of form with impressionists," continues Jasper. "In the mid-Nineties, I did nearly 300 shows with Phil Cool, and that worked incredibly well because the types of humour were so different. And so I did the show with Alistair, and it was great. I can’t absolutely explain it hook and nail, but it is that difference that counts."

In what way, Jasper? "When he does his impressions, Alistair is not him. He changes. When I come on, obviously I am me, and I do quite a personal show," he explains. "Alistair does half an hour and then I do half an hour, and then he does half an hour again and then I do another half an hour, and with Alistair, he is very rarely himself. He morphs. I am always myself – and the two different approaches go well together."

This to-and-fro between Carrott and McGowan is all important to the show's momentum. "When I do what I call the 'concert comedy', the two and a half hours, obviously it can be difficult to make an audience laugh, but just as difficult is bringing them down from that laughter," says Jasper. "You can only laugh out loud for 20 to 30 minutes maximum, and that’s a fact. You really can exhaust people with laughter.

York Press:

Carrott on McGowan: "When he does his impressions, Alistair is not him. He changes," he says.

"The secret of concert comedy is always to take people up and to bring them down. You get them laughing and then you build it up and then you get them interested in something and you keep them going, and then you build it all up again and go for broke at the end."

It feels right that McGowan starts the show, reckons Jasper. "He goes out there... I think it would be very difficult to follow personal humour. His humour is personal to a point, but he chooses different characters as the way through that humour, and then I come on and can a very personal approach," he says. "But you have got to be very careful not to run an audience out. Max Boyce used to do that. He would come on and absolutely blast the audience and have them in fits for half an hour, and you would be thinking ‘But you have got to get through the rest of the evening'!"

Times change, we all change, and so must a comedian's performances to move with the times, as Jasper Carrott's comedic longevity affirms. "You are constantly changing. You just cannot stay the same person. I always think that on stage I have got to know how I am, who I am and where I am, and that changes all the time. I had a long lay-out, but when I came back I was amazed that the old audience was still there. That took me by surprise. In my head, I am still 25, and I look out and I see these older people in the audience. And then I realise that’s me as well."

An Evening Shared With Jasper Carrott and Alistair McGowan also means a shared audience, with fans of each comedian mingling. "Alistair’s tends to be younger than mine, but that’s never a problem," says Jasper, who is 20 years the older man. "I had a really uplifting experience last year when I did Newcastle. I have got a step-grandson, who is 22, and he doesn’t really know who I am. Since he has been alive, I haven’t really done too much TV, but he wanted to see me, and so I sent him half a dozen complimentaries. And it was great. He said it was one of the most fantastic shows he had ever seen. He was absolutely blown over, and so were his friends."

An Evening Shared With Jasper Carrott and Alistair McGowan, York Barbican, November 19, 7.30pm. Tickets update: still available on 0844 854 2757, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.