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John Bird uses humour to challenge inequalities in Bethnal Green

PUBLISHED: 10:26 20 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:26 20 February 2014

Big Issue founders Gordon Roddick and John Bird l

Big Issue founders Gordon Roddick and John Bird l

PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Big Issue founder and raconteur John Bird is turning his attention to “comedy with a purpose”.

He will talk at the Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, on Sunday as the first pit stop of a national tour to entertain, inspire and challenge the public.

John said: “I’ve been doing talks from No 10 to the UN, from pubs to clubs, from prisons to hospitals. I always talk about important issues but I wrap it in humour.

“People just keep saying to me ‘you’re a straight-up comic with a purpose.’”

From a “10-minute” friendship with Linda McCartney to posing as a student to help a teenage Richard Branson sell magazines in Hyde Park, the anecdotes promise to flow effortlessly from the man who admits “delusions of grandeur”.

Audiences will discover how John moved beyond his impoverished youth, prison and life on the streets to founding one of the most famous magazines in the world.

John’s work for social change and giving the homeless an opportunity to earn money are feathers in a cap that is bursting with projects.

He said: “I am John Bird of The Big Issue, but I am also a self-appointed historian, artist, adviser and inflamer of businesses.”

Despite the inevitable humour, John said he wanted to educate people on social responsibility.

He said: “The most challenging thing will be doing this for people as entertainment.

“People don’t want to be bored or coming out of the theatre saying, ‘the world is so bad’. I will take people on a journey which is also about what they can do for social change and justice without sacrificing the entertainment.”

The World According to John Bird starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £6 to £8. Call 020 7613 7498 to book.

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