Gay comedian Matt Lucas has credited comedy with boosting his self-esteem.

The star, who lost his hair at the age of six and admits he has always struggled with his weight, said that learning he could make people laugh as a teenager was “incredibly exciting”.

On his stand-up routine as an 18-year-old, Lucas told the London Evening Standard: “I didn’t come from money. I used to get paid £80 in cash for it. It was a great sense of affirmation because my self-image was very poor – I struggled with my weight, with my sexuality, my parents were divorced, my dad was in prison, I had no hair – so I never felt that good about myself. Then I could walk into a room full of strangers and for 20 minutes make them really laugh, and get paid for it, and be asked to come back.”

Lucas became the first gay celebrity to get a civil partnership dissolution in October last year.

Speaking about the breakup of his relationship with Kevin McGee, he said: “I’m in a much better place than I was. Time is a great healer. We have an agreement we both honour that we won’t discuss the circumstances surrounding it. But I’m OK.”