Within seconds the NHS whistleblower, GP, comedian and broadcaster has me blushing like a schoolgirl and mumbling “I can’t print that” into my notepad.
The scalpel-sharp satirist laughs at my squirming and moves on to more neutral topics – having proved his point that we’re all so very British when it comes to such topics as, ahem, anatomy.
He said: “I talk about the things that people don’t talk about, in a very accessible way. I think it’s a release when I say something shocking and it works really well.
“It’s quite explicit, but not in a disgusting way. I encourage people to bring their injuries and bumps – it’s public comedy and by consultation we actually do diagnose people.
“I give the audience a choice of traditional, medical humour or political and they always go for anatomical. It’s not as vulgar as you think.”
Dr Phil will be delighting – or alarming – audiences with his close-to-the-wire humour at Leeds’ City Varieties Music Hall later this month. While his Rude Health tour and his TV stint on Countdown must make for a busy schedule, the GP also manages to practise his trade once a week back home in Bristol.
He said: “I enjoy both jobs. I think I like the immediacy of stand-up comedy. It’s like making a plan and you’ve got to learn it in 50 minutes. What frustrates me about being a GP is you have to do everything in ten-minute blocks, so it’s nice to build up a relationship with the audience.
“I’m both a comedian and a doctor really. I think the two should cross over. I feel more accountable as a comedian than a doctor – if the audience doesn’t laugh there’s no-one else to blame, but at the end of the day you can be a bad doctor and still have a waiting room full of patients.”
Dr Phil’s reputation as an investigative journalist for Private Eye (among other things) has certainly provided him with years of scandalous material.
But while his life in the media spotlight has created an outlet for his observations, he admits that it’s his day job which continues to keep him in new gags.
He said: “My material is mainly about health care so I wouldn’t have as much credibility if I said I last saw a patient 20 years ago and not last Wednesday. Medicine is always funny and the human condition is often funny. The material reinvents itself.
“I enjoy being a GP – there’s something quite touching in that a stranger will come into a room and tell you their most intimate secrets – but it doesn’t get any more competitive than comedy.”
Dr Phil’s Rude Health Show is at City Varieties Music Hall on March 22. Tickets cost between £17.50 and £20.50 with concessions for NHS workers. Visit www.city varieties.co.uk or call box office on 0113 243 0808 for tickets.