By Dan Sheridan - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Top Geordie comedian Simon Donald is looking forward to heading home next week for a special night of stand up in aid of the Newcastle United Foundation.
The co-creator of Viz magazine is on the bill alongside fellow North-East comics Jason Cook and Gavin Webster, as well as former Big Breakfast host Paul Tonkinson and Comedy Store regular Junior Simpson.
Tynesider Donald - a lifelong Newcastle fan - is now based in London and is all set to take his new 'School of Swearing' show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month.
But before that, the date of Monday 16th July is ringed on his calendar, and as Donald explains, he can't wait for his homecoming at The Stand Comedy Club on High Bridge.
"There are some top comedians on the bill," he says, "and it should be a great night. I really feel like I've come home when I do a gig in Newcastle, so I'm looking forward to it.
"A lot of what I do is in Geordie dialect, and in other parts of the country I have to play up certain words for people to understand it. But when I come home I can do the material the way it was intended, so it's relief to know that everyone will get it!
"Gavin (Webster) is one of my favourite comics on the whole circuit, not just in the North-East, and he's one of the most underrated acts on the national stage. He's a massive Newcastle fan as well!
"I haven't decided what my act will be yet - I'll probably decide on the day - but it'll be some of my more suitable stand-up and possibly some bits of my new show.
"The Newcastle United Foundation do some great work out in the local community and if I ever get the opportunity to do a bit of work for charity, then I take it - especially in the North-East because it's very special to me."
The former presenter of ITV's The Regionnaires famously set up Viz in his bedroom alongside his brother Chris in 1979, and the cult title went on to become one of the most popular magazines in the country.
But despite his continued love affair with comedy and his current location in the capital, Donald still keeps a keen eye on all things black and white, and is still basking in United's success last term.
"To be honest," he says, "although the season is long since over, I'm still quite stunned by how well it went! This time last year I had no confidence whatsoever and I thought that if we survived in the Premier League we'd have done well.
"But as we all know, we got a rather pleasant surprise from Mr Pardew and the players. He seems like a good man manager and he's got everyone reading from the same page.
"It's difficult for me to get to many games nowadays because of where I'm based, but I did manage to get to a few last season. There's also a good network of expats in London, so we often get together to watch the matches."
*Tickets for the Newcastle United Foundation Comedy Night on Monday 16th July are priced at £9.50 and £8 for concessions. To book, please ring: 0844 372 1892 (ext 8451), call in to The Stand's box office, or visit: www.thestand.co.uk