Joe Pasquale: Essex boy at heart
PUBLISHED: 14:26 09 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:26 09 May 2016
Life has thrown up many challenges for Essex boy Joe Pasquale, and even now he enjoys nothing more than challenging himself. Mica Bale speaks to the Gray’s funnyman with the squeaky voice
Notorious for his hilarious high pitched vocal tone and his cheeky chappy image, Essex-born Joe Pasquale has long been a firm favourite with the nation. His stand-up comedy and trademark slap-stick antics have delighted audiences up and down the country, as well as millions on TV, and he shows no signs of slowing down!
From tour dates to pantomine performances and countless television appearances, to learning how to fly, Joe has always been proud to maintain his Essex roots.
Born in Grays, Joe lived with his father (also Joe, who worked in a margarine factory), along with his mother, Ethel, his two older sisters, Julie and Lorraine, and his younger brother, Paul.
‘I’ve lived in several different places, but I always say that Essex is home,’ says Joe. ‘You can take yourself out of Essex, but you can’t take Essex out of you. If you hold a shell suit up to your ear, you can hear Essex.’
From an early age, Joe displayed an interest in fossils and geology.
‘I suppose I was a bit different, those things appealed to me more than football. I went to Torells Comprehensive School and I was quite well behaved as well. I didn’t throw rubbers at the teachers like some did, including my classmate Fatima Whitbread, who was scary even then. She was nice really, though.’
It wasn’t until after a serious accident occurred that Joe’s sense of fun and performance came to the fore.
‘I was on my first paper round in Grays,’ Joe explains. ‘I was riding a Chopper pushbike with a can of Coke in one hand and a bag of newspapers in the other! Crossing a dual carriageway, I saw a car coming towards me and realised I wasn’t going to make it. I suppose it’s pretty miraculous I survived. My leg was so badly broken, just below the hip, that I was in hospital for about six months,’ Joe adds. ‘I was a bit late delivering the papers!’
When Joe returned to school, he was faced with a good deal of bullying, but every cloud has a silver lining, as Joe himself admits. ‘I’d get sympathy from the girls who’d come up and cuddle me. I’d crack jokes and do a Charlie Chaplin impression with my stick!’
It was to spark the beginning of a very successful career in show business.
Joe left school at the age of 16 and had a crack at a variety of different jobs, ranging from factory work, plastering and even trying his hand at being a clerical assistant, before realising his true vocation.
Having exhausted a mixture of different jobs, Joe became a Green Coat, entertaining and orgainising the holidaymakers at a Warners Holiday Camp. In the early eighties, Joe started to enter various talent contests and it was not long before his big break came in the form of the TV talent show New Faces, in which he respectably took second place.
‘No one had any expectations of me,’ Joe recalls. ‘I had nothing to fall back on except my personality, which is probably one reason I went into show business.’
The rest, as they say, is history. As the months and years followed, Joe grew in popularity and talent. However, his attitude towards comedy has always been the same.
‘People,’ Joe says, ‘take comedy far too seriously. It is what it is. I like to just go out and muck about. I have a rough idea of what I’m going to do and then I just see what happens. Stand up gives you such a buzz,’ he says. ‘It’s like riding a rollercoaster. I enjoy that sense of fear – it’s like going to a really good scary movie.’
Joe has tried his hand at a variety of other interests outside the world of showbusiness, most notably overcoming his fear of flying and learning how to become a pilot. Joe has also taken an increased interest in fitness.
‘I took up boxing classes at my gym and cannot imagine giving it up, now. It is really exhilarating and incredible fun! Over recent years I have become so much fitter and also lost weight. I seem to have much more energy and now really enjoy being active. I’ve even entered the London Marathon, which I completed in five hours and twenty minutes. That is an achievement I’m very proud of.
‘After I did I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here,’ Joe continues, ‘I got back from that and I thought about how I was scared of flying, so I did a couple of lessons and got my pilot’s licence. I even did a couple of parachute jumps. I then wanted a new challenge, so I started doing a degree with the Open University in geo-science. You get to a certain age where you think about mortality and realise you’re not going to be here for too long.’
Joe’s love of how the planet works has never diminished over the years. In fact, if anything, it has grown.
‘My interest in science never waned and a couple of years ago I embarked on a degree in natural science, with the Open University. My course specialises in earth science which I find fascinating,’ he continues. ‘Since I began my degree a few years ago, I have discovered a real passion for studying. Yes, I just had an interest in the way the planet works and a general interest in how this planet was formed and how the solar system got here. It gives me a perspective of how short our time on this planet is.
‘Some of the best beaches I have combed have been in Belize and Costa Rica, where you find volcanic rocks and beautiful gemstones in the powder-white sand. If that isn’t enough to keep you occupied, there are the stunning rain forests and coral reefs to explore too. For a nature buff like me, these coastal stretches of Central America are a little bit of heaven on earth.’
It all sounds like a million light years away from those early beginnings in Essex, but Joe never forgets where it all started.
‘I never forget how comedy helped me survive when I was growing up and I never forget how walking on the Essex beaches of Southend and Clacton got me interested in fossils and stones. My squeaky voice is all my own, but I owe a lot of everything else to Essex.’
Despite a very busy life in show business and an impressively long list of interests taking up a lot of his time, Joe shows no signs of slowing down and will always be an Essex boy at heart.