All the children are tucked up in bed, but a couple of children’s favourites have sneaked out for the night. Philip Parr discusses the joys of false beards with Trevor and Simon.
NME calls them ‘mad people who talk rubbish and frighten children’. but what does NME know? Trevor and Simon are perhaps the only comics, with the exception of the laudable (or should that be laughable?) Rob Newman, who regularly receive exposure in a considerably less worldly-wise music paper - Smash Hits. For these are comedians of the new generation. Trevor and Simon came to prominence via that most obscure route — Phillip Schofield. The teen-hero’s Saturday morning show Going Live needed some spicy comedic element, the show‘s producers spotted Trevor and Simon in a London cabaret dive, and the Blu-tak of a hundred thousand teenage girls was rolled between sweaty palms in anticipation of those
Smash Hits photospreads.
But this was not an overnight success story. The duo began performing in Manchester in 1981 visited the Fringe in 1984 and did the rounds on the London cabaret circuit for two years before being ‘spotted’ and launched on Going Live in 1987.
‘When we got Going Live we were thinking about how we could go on,’ says Trevor.
‘The TV was the best thing that could have happened because we were getting a bit disillusioned about just doing a twenty minute routine upstairs in a pub,’ continues Simon. Suddenly TV came along and we were given free rein in the BBC costume and make-up department, and we could have sets and props.’
‘We could have sex?’ interjects Trevor. ‘Oh, “sets”, right.‘
‘Luckily, I’d had sex before 1987,’ counters Simon. Trevor and Simon (surnames Neal and Hickson) have a plethora of characters ranging from hippies to barbers. But in the stage show, all but the barbers will be left in that BBC costume department. ‘We come on in our
nice suits and, for a change, we don’t have any beards or wigs. Actually, it‘s like returning to how we started. It’s more in keeping with what we did in 1984, before we discovered the joys of false beards.’
The boys are also leaving the safe environs of the TV studio for the jungle of live performance. And dangers from an audience reach far greater heights than merely having gangs of Smash Hits-touting girls screaming for an item of clothing. ‘We had a bit of a psychopath once,’ recalls Simon. ‘This woman wandered up to the stage and was desperate for us to cut off her long blonde hair.
‘And the audience was up there, they wanted us to cut it off . We did consider it but then thought “We can’t do this — she’ll wake up tomorrow and regret it like mad.” In the end, I led her out of the theatre and directed I her towards a ladies’ hairdressers. We only do men, you see.’
I Trevor and Simon (Fringe) Assekbly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 5 Sept, 10pm , £6.50/£7.50 (£5/£6).
Two evenings, two very diiierent comics, two sides oi the Atlantic and a striking lesson about the diiierent ways to approach stand-up. Canada's Mike McDonald is a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind oi guy, straight down the line, liberal without being wimpish, amiable without being ingratiating. He’s also probably the linest comic you'll see at the Assembly Rooms or anywhere else this year.
McDonald tells us about going on iamily holidays as a kid. His Dad emerges as the lather out oi The Wonder Years with 100 per cent added
evil. It’s a startlingly accurate evocation oi being a kid that develops
into a painiuily recognisable depiction oi adolescence. McDonald eschews all the tried and tested comic devices at exaggeration, surrealism and politics ior simple truth. This is a one-Iiner-iree zone and the result is memorable and genuinely thought-provoking comedy. McDonald was in the audience the iollowing night ior South London’s
Mark Thomas. Sometimes he grinned uneasily, sometimes he looked plain coniused. Thomas is what Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine would be like ii they'd gone in ior comedy instead oi ‘muslc’: likeable, reasonable but too bloody insistent ior his own good. He bludgeons his audience into submission with his comments on Bush, Mellor and similar solt targets. The punchlines come in on programmed beats. Some oithe material is excellent but Thomas has to learn to seduce an audience ratherthan violate them. As it is, a Thomas gig is still a case oi ‘wham, bam, I’m Mark Thomas, goodnight.’ Try a little tenderness Mark. (Tom Lappln)
Mike McDonald (Fringe), The Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, Until 5 Sept, £7 (26).
Mark Thomas (Fringe), The Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, Until 5 Sept, 10.15pm, £7 (£6).
With the eyelids drooping, Philip Parr chooses a iinal live oi the late-night best.
I Frank Skinner The man who put the filth into ‘complete ﬁlth’ returns triumphantly, clutching his bottle of fizzy water under his arm. Simply the best (white, male, English) comedian on the Fringe.
Frank Skinner (Fringe) The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 29Aug (not27) 10.20pm, £7.50 (£6.50).
I Thea Vidale We just knew she’d be this good and who’s to say we were wrong now? Simply the best comedian on the Fringe.
Thea Vidale (Fringe) Assembly at the Meadows (Venue 116) 229 9281, until 4Sept (not27, 1) 10pm, £6.50 (£5.50).
I G-Force Wacky New Yorkers
doing wacky New York things at a gathering speed of9.8 metres per second per second. Breathtaking. G-Force (Fringe) Playful Theatre Company, Randolph Studios (Venue 55) 225 5366, until5 Sept (not27), 10pm, £4 (£3).
I A Hope For This World Bare Bones is the company and that could describe the play as well. Tough, razor-edged drama — pessimistic yet invigorating.
A Hope For This World (Fringe) Bare Bones, Randolph Studio (Venue 55 ) 225 5366, until 5 Sept (not 27), midnight, £3.50 (£3).
I Sill Not only the critics but also Bruce Morton himself are unsure about this show. On the night I saw him he was subtle yet dynamic, moving yet hilarious. Others have seen him and winced. If he’s on form, though, you’ll never regret shelling out that fiver.
Sin (Fringe) Bruce Morton, Riﬂe Lodge (Venue 101) 557 I 785, until5
Sept (not Suns), 10.45pm, £5 (£3350).
The List 28 August — 10 September 1992 43