THE last time Arthur Smith came to Taunton was the day that Barack Obama was elected as President, which seems like a lifetime ago.

So, luckily for us, he is back in Taunton next month to join the long line of Taunton Literary Festival talks – and he can’t wait to be back in the West Country.

Despite being a well-known stand-up now, Arthur wasn’t always an entertainer. He originally began his career as a road sweeper, then a dustman, a handyman and a foreign language English teacher.

He said: “I did show off a lot as a kid and began to realise that I could make friends by making people laugh.

“Eventually I went to Edinburgh and managed to make a living from stand-up since the 1980s really – I haven’t yet had to go back to working as a dustman.

“There was a lot of interest in this ‘new wave’ of comedy so stand-up got a lot of attention.”

This is The West Country:

Arthur was part of the comedy movement in the 1890s.

He soon became a professional entertainer and has performed all over the world and written every form of comedy from stand-up one liners to full-length plays and screenplays.

Arthur explained: “There was a period where I was on TV and teaching at the same time and I gave my class the task of watching me on telly. The next day they had to answer questions.

“Comedy is endlessly evolving, and people are trying to work out what you can and can’t say, and what it means if people laugh or don’t laugh.

“Now everyone does comedy and it has become a lot more confessional – people use comedy to confront problems, like mental health.

“Laughter is a great consolidation and it is a great way to escape the misery of life. People pull together through laughter.

“Someone once said that ‘laughter is the shortest distance between two people’ and I think it does a great job of bringing people together.”

Reminding himself of the humour in his own life, meant that Arthur had a wealth of stories that he didn’t know how to tell people. His publisher suggested he wrote a book – and so he did: 100 Things I Meant to Tell You.

This is The West Country:

The book is filled with 100 chapters that will take you on a rollercoaster journey through rants, gags, escapades and so much more.

As with his comedy, Arthur aims to tell a story, hopes that it is interesting and then around the corner, he will add a punchline too.

He explained: “I found a good way to get out of doing an ordinary job – I could never work in an office. The only crucial moment of my day is the show during the evening, and even afterwards it is such a wonderful feeling.

“I do have a body of set material, but I do go off-piste and chat to people. There are various stories about my stand-up in the book.

“There is a chapter in the book called A Brief Flutter and it was about when a butterfly flew onto the stage while I was singing, and I ended up doing a sort of duet with it – the butterfly became the hero of the evening really.

“I think with comedy, you can wander off anywhere – it is the most direct form of entertainment.”

This is The West Country:

At the moment, Arthur is working on a show about his father called Syd.

He explained that he is looking forward to making his father’s voice heard again.

And of course, he will be in Taunton this November for the Taunton Literary Festival.

He said: “The Literary Festival crowd is always an agreeable one. Writers aren’t usually entertainers and so I can shine easily.

“I think people should come and see me because…I will say a profound truth about Taunton that no one knows.

“And I will buy a pint for anyone with a funny tattoo.”

Arthur will be at Queens College Theatre on November 2 at 6:30pm.

To see Arthur Smith at the festival visit www.tauntonliteraryfestival.co.uk or call 01823 337742.