Tim Hughes looks forward to the return of grouchy US comic, Rich Hall

For a man who seems born to make us laugh, Rich Hall has a big old angry streak. For all his grouchy humour and curmudgeonly mockery, he is a man of principles – and a burning sense of indignation, which has just grown fiercer after this week’s events in his homeland.

“It is always good to articulate anger,” he says. “If you don’t, you’re merely preaching to the converted and asking, ‘Have you ever noticed?’

“Yes, we are paying you to notice things we haven’t already noticed!”

The antidote to all those comedians who fill arenas by trading on off banal observations, Rich is a man with something to say, and he is not afraid to growl it, albeit with a world weary roll of the eyes and a shrug of his cowboy-shirted shoulders.

Take Trump. Virginia-born and North Carolina-raised, Rich hardly taken a back seat in the contest – with criticism of both candidates, but most vehemently against Trump.

His BBC4 documentary How to Kill a President, looked at negative campaigning in the Presidential race. And even with the results in, the skulduggery of the past few months, and the shock result, has proved a rich seam of humour – and anger – for straight-talking Rich, which he will be sharing when he comes to Oxford Playhouse on Saturday.

“There is a lot of gnashing of teeth about Trump, but it was merely entertainment,” he says. “He was doing what he had to do to get attention.

“He was saying the most outrageous things and tapping into a collective sense of anger.

“But eventually he came under the same scrutiny as everyone else. ‘So you want to build a giant wall along the border and make the Mexicans pay for it? How exactly are you going to do that, then?’”

He goes on: “If the people running had their way, no one would have watched the campaign at all. But when Trump came along, everyone had to react and talk about issues – and politicians hate that. God forbid that they have to talk about issues!”

One of America’s finest comedians, the Perrier-award winner is widely respected here. Indeed, the admiration goes both ways: When not at his ranch in Montana, he is at his flat in London, where he has lived on and off for much of the past two decades. It has also allowed him to participate in the panel shows and radio programmes as well as stand-up gigs, which have earned him his reputation as one of the nation’s favourite funnymen.

We know him from QI, Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News For You, Stand Up For The Week, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and his own Otis Lee Crenshaw – London Not Tennessee show, featuring his country & western-loving, red neck Tennessee alter-ego.

It is that experience of bridging the Atlantic divide that provides some of the best moments of his show, Rich Hall Live.

While Rich pours most scorn on his homeland – and it’s stupid choices, he is not averse to having a dig at his adopted Britain, lampooning wherever he happens to be appearing at the time.

It’s a deadly wit, but faultlessly well-observed – and researched – and all delivered in that same deadpan style which saw him serve as the inspiration for The Simpsons’ cantankerous barman, Moe Szyslak.

The comedian, who has starred in his own shows Rich Hall’s Continental Drifters, The Dirty South, Californian Stars, Cattle Drive and Gone Fishing, goes out of his way to find out about the towns in which he is playing, improvising songs on the night about them to perform on the night.

“I try to tap into what is happening locally and address that musically by writing an improvised song based on the town I’m in,” he says.

And audiences appreciate the bespoke comedy. He says: “Once they realise you’re not just trotting out your regular act, people think, ‘He’s made a real effort. He’s on our side, so we’re on his side’. Then you can take them anywhere.

“I like to do something custom-made every night, otherwise you would just be like a robot. That can really wear you down.

“Nobody gets more sick of hearing their own voice than a comedian.

“When you’re improvising a song, you think, ‘I may never do this one again, but it’s a special moment for everyone here’, he says.

“You want to reach the point where audiences say, ‘I’d like to see that guy again’. You want to deliver the goods and be Old Reliable.”

It’s that love of music which has seen him achieve parallel success with Otis Lee Crenshaw.

“Music works in my show because it connects with people on a very personal level,” he says. “A lot of comedians just come on stage and say, ‘I was on a bus and I passed so and so.

“But that’s just a reaction to something rather than a specific, custom-made song that engages people.

“The magic is more important than the material.

“People really respond to that.”

And it is that spontaneity that, he says, keeps him motivated.

“I love being on stage,” he says. “I love the fact that when a live show is over, it’s gone. It’s happened, and it will never happen like that again. It can’t be replicated. That’s a great magical moment.”

And, he says, he thrives on the spontaneity of live comedy. “In every single show, there are always two or three moments where I’m thinking, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ he says.

“You’re constantly thinking on your feet.”

Despite, or probably because of, the good-humoured mockery, he has won an army of fans, who love his conversational style and easy banter.

As well as returning to favourite destinations, the Emmy-winning writer actively seeks out new destinations.

“I’m really looking forward to going to the nether regions of Scotland,” he says.

“Every year I try to tour out of the way places. Last year it was Norway. This year it is the Hebrides.

“I like to go to places where I’m not worried about competition from other comedians!

“Audiences also love the fact that you have made the effort to play there.”

“I’m not a big showbiz hound,” he adds, “but for me being on stage is the most satisfying thing imaginable.”

Rich Hall plays the Oxford Playhouse on Saturday. Tickets are £17 from oxfordplayhouse.com