As classic TV show Fantasy Football threatens to return, its presenter FRANK SKINNER gets back to the terraces hoping to incite a spot of crowd trouble. Just don't bring your grandmother. Words: Nichola Christie
COMEDIAN FRANK SKINNER has a way with ‘f’ words. Funny, fantasy and football, among more risqué others — all trip effortlessly off his tongue, especially under the full glare of stage lights.
The man who put West Brom on the map and sits on the other side of ‘that’ couch with Fantasy Football partner David Baddiel, has just attempted to make another audience blush with his latest stage show, which is coming to Scotland this month.
For Skinner, telling jokes is all one big game. ‘Comedy is like tennis,’ he says. ‘The best shots are the ones that go just — just — over the net, and sometimes even touch the net. That’s the sort ofjokes I like. I like them to be on the edge.’
In Skinner’s world, the word ‘taboo’ does not exist. He will address any subject, and hilariously so — although it helps if it begins with an ‘f’. Despite his genuine aim to keep people away who will not enjoy his own particular brand of enlightenment, there are always a few who stumble into a Skinner audience unawares and end up excruciatingly embarrassed.
‘In Edinburgh there was one couple who were obviously disgusted by the whole thing very early on, before I’d even started doing anything,’ he says of the show he brought to the Festival this year. ‘1 think they heard two fucks and that was it.’
Surprisingly, despite Skinner’s obvious obsession with the subject of sex, football would win out if push came to shove, so to speak. ‘If I had to choose between sex and football, I’d probably choose football,’ he says. ‘1 mean, with sex I might only have three or four years left anyway.’
At 40, Skinner is unbelievably baby-faced, wrinkle free and trendy looking, with a full head of hair. He can hardly believe his age himself. ‘Are you slightly horrified‘?’ he asks. ‘So am I. Every day I’m horrified, but, you know, I couldn’t imagine living without either [football or sex] for very long.
‘l’ve probably had more anguish from football than I’ve had from sex, but that’s supporting West Brom really — I’ve only ever known them to win one proper trophy, whereas I’ve won several trophies for sex. I’ve got a whole cabinetful at home.’ Hmmm. ‘I think what’ll happen is that sex will
suddenly close down like late night television and I’ll be left with just football. And I’ll probably be happy.’
This explains why mention of being reunited with David Baddiel for an lTV series Fantasy World Cup next year brings a huge grin to his face. ‘We’re going to be doing it live, and we’re doing it for the World Cup which only lasts four weeks, so it’ll be sudden and exciting, with four shows being filmed a week,’ he says.
Skinner is unsure whether [TV will then commission the show in its original BBC format. Although he and Baddiel had originally said they would not record another series of Fantasy Football. Skinner is rather more open-minded now.
‘We’ll have a better idea after we’ve done it again,’ he says. ‘We tried to quit while we were ahead, but you know, sometimes pleasure is a bit more important than success. I think we should’ve been a bit less bothered about the idea of whether it was a hit or not and a bit more bothered about the reason we started doing it in the first place — for a laugh.‘
Skinner has some exciting projects on the horizon , including a pilot series BBC2 has just commissioned him to do, despite the fact ‘there’s no actual idea behind the show yet’. But he claims having a good time with his mates comes before work. His friendship with
former t‘latmate Baddiel is of great importance. ‘We’re real buddies and I think we always will be now,’ he says. ‘We’re very close. In fact, moving out I think has actually helped a bit — a sort of trial separation.’
It is a mixture of guts and a measure of bare—faced cheek that has enabled Skinner to progress from the days when he was asked
'In Edinburgh there was one couple who were obviously disgusted by the whole thing very early on. I think they heard two fucks and that was it, Frank Skinner
‘What’s it like being 30 and on the scrap heap‘?’ to playing to packed houses and leading millions of English fans in a new football anthem at Wembley.
Ask him how he thinks he is doing and he‘ll modestly reply ‘alright’. Go and see him on stage and you’ll see why he has come this far. But be warned: he says he is toying with the idea of bringing a modern ballet to next year’s Edinburgh Festival. Talk about having the world at your feet.
Frank Skinner is at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 14 Oct, 8pm and the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 19 Oct, 8pm. The Frank Skinner TV Show Unseen is available now on PNE Video. More Unseen Fantasy Football is released on PNE Video on Mon 3 Nov.
Frank Skinner: guts and bare-faced cheek
10 Oct—23 Oct 1997TIIEIJ8T17