lfyou were travelling on the Glasgow to Edinburgh Scotrail Express last week, I was the one who was sniggering uncontrollany behind a slim red volume with a picture of Jeremy Hardy on the front. The book, When Did You LastSee Your Father? , is the Perrier Award-winning stand-up’s first venture into publishing (not counting his short-lived time as a columnist on The Guardian) and sets itself up as a guide to practical parenting for men.

It is, of course, no such thing. If] point out that a whole chapter is devoted to how to be a sitcom father, and still another on how to bc a film father, you’ll maybe get the idea. Fans of Hardy will be more than familiar with the style; a seemingly down-to-earth conversational monologue which, through a series of warped logical leaps, takes you quite nonchalantly from child care to the idea that ‘Jesus was a glove- puppct‘. And being Hardy, he’s likely to make a cutting political side-swipe at government cut-backs, pig-ignorant racism, wet liberal angst and, er, hospital receptionists.

As Hardy himself acknowledges, this is the kind of book you‘ll find next to the cartoon collections in someone else‘s bathroom. Its rambling style means that, although frequently hilarious, it‘s not consistently funny, and it struggles to pass the 100-page mark after a lot of blank pages and a handful of photos. An entertaining casual read, but maybe not an essential purchase.

If in doubt, you should first get along to his Fools Paradise gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh and see for yourself what makes him one of the country's finest comics.

When Did You LastSee Your Father (Methuen £9. 99) Jeremy Hardy. Jeremy Hardy, Fools Paradise, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Sat 7Nov.



Sharp shootin’

3 Alan Morrison talks to I Bill Hicks, an American

comedian with an eye for

' obscenity and a mouth to match.

‘The day I arrived, the riots occurred in LA.’ says Bill Hicks of his last visit

to the UK. ‘I was trying to get news

5 of my city burning to the ground and all there is is this fucking snooker

tournament with Jimmy White

who, by the way, was playing nine months before when I left. Turn off the TV, head for the airport, come back, Jimmy White’s still on. This guy hadn’t left the table yet.’

Well, Bill, there’s a good chance that Jimmy will be still potting those reds when you next set foot on British soil. As for the riots. . . who knows, because Hicks’ latest UK tour happily coincides with the Presidential Elections. And this is one American comedian who throws reverence out of the window when it comes to the politics of his home country. Hicks, you could say, dissects the hypocrisy of contemporary America with a tongue like a chainsaw. But this is not stand-up of the shock-and-run school: this guy shines a harsh comic light on the lies of those at the top, whether they be occupants of the White House, the fat cats of the advertising industry or the plain dumb joes on the street that keep them in power. ‘I love America but I hate, I guess, Americans,’ says the man who last year was in the unique

position of being for the Gulf War, but against the troops.

‘America is going through a spiritual crisis,’ he continues, his voice warming up on the transatlantic line. ‘Why is that? Because they only value two things here fame and money. That’s all their culture values. America is suffering a nervous fucking breakdown right now. Hopefully when they get Bush out of there, get rid of this smarmy, smirky Skeletor, maybe they’ll feel better. Base their vote not on their wallet, hopefully. “But he’s not gonna raise taxes!” But he’s The Devil. “He’s not gonna raise taxes!” But he’s Satan, he’s destroying the planet. ‘But he won‘t raise my taxes!” Fuck you, fucking little greedy pig. Vote with your fucking heart just once.’

Woah, let’s take a step to the side for a moment. Hicks isn’t all bitter, political invective: this is the man with the hilariously cringe-inducing ‘suck your own dick’ routine, whose musings on smokers and smoking leaves Denis Leary back at the starting block, who raises to sainthood those rock’n’rollers who drown in their own vomit. Born in Houston, Texas some 30 years ago, he’s the kind of comedian who needs

Bill Hicks: comedian with a conscience

to be seen as well as heard, as he paces the stage, working up a sweat, giving the proverbial 110 per cent.

‘1 think it’s important to expose lies, otherwise what ground are you standing on?’ he asks. ‘It’s a real relief to have someone say what maybe a lot of people are feeling but they never have anyone to say it. Comedians act as a conscience for a world, they don’t go along with the group. Regardless of the elections, there is a target that will continue in America, and that is the covert censorship of ideas, that you’re not allowed to enter into the spectrum of debate. You can’t enter the idea that, maybe, $160 billion defence fund in times of peace is just a bit of a waste.’

As that voice descends into an almost manic cackle, it’s worth pointing out Hicks’ latest promise: if Bush wins again, he’s going to be flat-hunting in the UK. But, on the other hand, ifClinton gets in, the US’s first cultural ambassador of the new regime could well be a Texan cynic who’s only‘ slightly less pissed-off than usual.

Bill Hicks plays the Pavillion, Glasgow, on Tue 1 7Nov and the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, on Wed 18 Nov.

' v comm

No Beadle Baddie

To kick off on a seemingly tangential note . . . Apparently back in the early Gus it was pointless attending a Beatles concert to hear the music because the screaming girlies always outdid the band in the volume stakes. Far be it from anyone who happens to be writing this article to draw too direct a comparison, but David Baddlel and Bob Newman (that’s the two off The Mary Whitehouse Experience who refrain from sniffing sour milk) now command such a partisan audience

that the quality of their material

sometimes seems an incidental element of their often hysterically received gigs.

Understandany they can't get enough of this, so they’re swiftly following their 40-date spring jaunt with another extensive tour. Clearly what we have here is an incidence of two comedians for whom the lure of the stage is a coercive drug, who recognise that stand-up is the lifeblood coursing through the comedian's veins, with all the pitfalls and tests of quickwittedness

David Baddiel: no anonks

and improvisational skills that it entails. Is this not correct, Mr Baddiel? ‘No, it's the enormous sums of money

we get for doing it that's really the crucial thing.’

So. Contrary to a nasty rumour perpetrated in the depths of Malodorousville, this will not be Newman and Baddiel's last outing together ‘unless we have an enormous row which obviously is quite likely.’ What the set will include is a matter for speculation, as Baddiel, suffering from a killer cocktail of apathy and depression, has yet to pen much of his contribution. It’s easier to know what not to expect.

‘There is a certain type of comedy that we’re very keen to avoid and that is anything that could be considered to be stock or seen before or referring to things that people have decided are funny without thinking about it. By which I mean any jokes about Jeremy Beadle or people wearing anoraks.’ (Fiona Shepherd)

Newman and Baddiel, Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Thurs til—Fri 20 Nov.

44 The List 6— 19 November 1992