t l i I l
Glaswegian comedian ARNOLD BROWN has unearthed his family roots for his first book. Wide-eyed, he rediscovers his old haunts with Kathleen Morgan.
rinking Earl Grey tea and nibbling
petite slices of toast in Glasgow’s
culinary shrine to Charles Rennie
Mackintosh is an unsettling
experience for a stand-up comedian.
Especially when he is forced to sit on a high-backed chair.
But Arnold Brown needs sustenance before embarking on a round trip of his Glasgow childhood and what better place to start than Sauchiehall Street‘s Willow Tea Room‘.’ The tourist trap figures in his first book Are You Looking At Me. Jimmy." — a journey into the recesses of his Jewish family history. Rooted in fact. but with a healthy dollop of fantasy. it is the story of Brown’s return from his adopted London home for his Uncle Harry‘s funeral. There are a few mysteries to solve and Brown does this the only way he knows how. by treading the streets of Glasgow.
‘Jewish people are identified with wealth because they weren’t allowed to work in the ordinary way. They were allowed to be money lenders and set up their own banks, but it was an environmental thing. It wasn’t in their genes.’
Renowned for his dry observations on life. the former Perrier Award-winner is preparing for a taxi tour of his childhood haunts. As he speaks. he takes in the silver-painted high-backed chairs. a crowd of Japanese tourists and his plateful of toast. Intent on explaining how his comedy demolishes racial and religious
: stereotypes. he is distracted by a camera flash
from the Japanese visitors‘ corner. ‘They come
over here and they give us jobs.‘ he grunts.
There is something lovable about the 58-year- 'old who gave up a respectable career as a
chartered accountant in 1979 shortly after
shuffling onstage at London‘s Comedy Store. His gamble paid off. He went on to found the Comic Strip live shows with Alexei Sayle and Rick Mayall. before carving his own identity on
12 The List 9—22 September l994
Shades of Brown
Arnold Brown: Are you looking at me, Jlmmy?