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GUEST LIST Bill Bailey

One-time Rubber Bishop, Perrier nominee, instigator of musical mayhem and expert tangent explorer, BILL BAILEY dons his writer's hat and plops himself down in The List’s guest columnist seat.

MY FIRST VISIT to the Edinburgh Festival was in I985. ‘lnto The Groove’ was Number One; there were pubs and chips. It was a good time to be young. That year was my first attempt at comedy as a double act called The Rubber Bishops with an old schoolfriend. Toby Longworth. We had no venue. posters or act but we did have two cassocks which we’d found in a church on Princes Street, and about five minutes of innuendo.

As part of a student company we slept seventeen to a flat and were in two productions, I was in a wobbly version of Under Milk Wood. Toby was in a play written by another student called Dance Of The Dar/0 which was about the plight of the North American Indians and wasn’t it terrible about what’s happened to them . . . er . . . and everything. The cast wore body paint and towels and it featured a narrator who spent the entire play on stage in a pile of newspaper. In order to let the lighting technician know when to bring up his spotlight. he would cough violently.

16 msusr 22—28 Aug 1997

Unfortunately. after two days he caught a very bad cold and coughed almost continuously causing a disco effect.

In l988. the theatre company I was with was the subject of a BIM‘Z documentary following the fortunes of a 'struggling liringe company". They got their money's worth as on the opening night both the female leads disappeared. We found a note from them saying ‘Sorry. We had to go back to London'. The TV crew followed us on the night of

We had no venue, posters or net but we did have two cassetk: not: about five minutes. of innuendo. “of a

drinking that ensued and filmed us the next morning where it all ended rather acrimonioust with the presenter. .\lurie| Gray. calling us a ‘bunch of ugly bastards‘. Small audiences are a feature of the Fringe. as I have tliscoyct'ctl oyct‘ tltc years. There is always a brief moment of false hope

Bill Bailey: keyboard king of comedy

when the stage manager comes backstage and says. ‘Right. they're all in. Let‘s go'. and you say. ‘(ireat There‘s more than one then. how many's in'."


‘(ircat. any papers."


There was a night in 1094 when I was performing Rock with Sean Lock at The l’leasancc and we had an audience of one who turned out to be the fine comedian Dominic

lIoIIand. He said ‘l)on‘t mind me lads. carry till.‘

We. said. ‘l.ook Dominic. we feel a bit uncomfortable just doing it to you. Let‘s just have a drink and we'll tell you the best bits.‘

As a result. this is tny advice to anyone

doing a l-‘ringe show; before you start. look out at the audience. If it looks like a cheap round. cancel and go to the bar.

Bill Bailey (Fringe) George Square Theatre (Venue 37) Edinburgh, 0131 650 2001, until 29 Aug, 9.45pm, £9 (£8).