Interview by Graham Chalmers
Harrogate Comedy Festival is looking forward to a laughter-filled second week.
Organised by Harrogate Theatre, the top comedy festival in the whole of the north is set to welcome the likes of Jimmy Carr, Jason Byrne, Rob Beckett, Jenny Éclair, Nina Conti and Kate Fox in the run-up to its finale on October 17.
It may be one of the UK’s top comedy festivals but two of the biggest comedy stars set to arrive already have good links to Harrogate.
Gavin Ramsey of Hebburn TV series fame is returning to Harrogate Theatre with his new show next Monday.
Called All Growed Up, Ramsey says he was always being told off as a child at school.
But he had the last laugh on his former head master, he added, the last time he appeared in Harrogate.
He said: “My old headmaster came to a gig on my last tour in Harrogate and didn’t tell me in advance or ask for free tickets.
“When I spotted him sitting in one of the boxes, I toopk the mickey out of him for having just being made a ‘sir’ in the honours lost. I got a good ten minutes out of it!”
Another star with Harrogate links is Tim Brooke-Taylor.
The former star of 70s hit comedy TV series The Goodies was part of the stage tour of BBC radio 4 comedy panel show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue which packed out Harrogate International Centre in 2008.
The event proved to be presenter Humphrey Lyttelton’s final appearance before his passing at 80.
In complete contrast, a newcomer to both Harrogate Comedy Festival and Harrogate itself is Beardyman.
Appearing at Harrogate Theatre next Wednesday, this witty DJ and musician first came to fame when he became UK Beatbox Champion in 2006 and counts Prince Harry among his fans.
Very sharp but equally happy to be very silly, he once dresssed as a monkey when he was performing at Bestival.
He said: “I once played a show in Aberdeen. I thought it might help me if I asked for a kilt from the audience. Instead, someone got me a lobster suit. I wore. It was really hot.”
Next week’s show, One Album Per Hour, will see him improvise an entire new album on the spot using two laptops, a bunch of iPads and suggestions from the audience.
As for Prince Harry, Beardyman said: “I was doing a show in a small venue in Piccadilly as a favour and Prince Harry came down. Apparently he’s a fan of mine. Afterwards he was like “can you come with me all the time as my official Beatboxer?”
“We got on well and he invited me for dinner with his mates and, probably, a few security men in civilian clothes. His sense of humour is half royal and half squadddie.
“After those nudie pictures of him in Las Vegas appeared which were so debauched it shamed the family, his granny sent him back to Afghanistan. Imagine having a granny with that sort of power!
“I can’t say any more more about what Prince Harry said, wouldn’t that be treason?”
As well as being a funny guy, Beardyman’s electronic musical skills are also highly regarded.
His second album, Distractions, was compared favourably last year to Aphex Twin and Caribou.
His first in 2011 had been called I Done An Album and I suggestto Beardyman that his second one really should have been called I Done Another Album.
Fortunately, his comic improvisational skills are much better than mine.
The show he’s bringing to Harrogate was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe, though it a bit of high wire act on stage for Beardyman - not literally, you understand.
He said: “On this tour I will be creating a new album 30 times over. Each night I openly encourage the audience to get involved and shout out ideas and titles for new tracks.
“I like the not knowing. I really love it. It’s like you’re standing in front of a black hole but there’s a whole world to be created from it.”
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