A man with balls
For Northern entertainer JOHNNY VEGAS, success wasn't down to pot luck. It’s been hard work, pain and fury, goshdarnit, and he doesn't care who knows. Words: Peter Ross
‘Lights going out and a kick in the balls . . . that's entertainment.‘ That‘s how a bitter young man once summed up showbiz. Johnny Vegas begs to differ.
‘Entertainers perform from the soul. from the heart.‘ he drawls in his Northern Man brogue. ‘We do it for love because we know no better. Comedians are money-grabbing accountants who’ve discovered a way of making money. btit an entertainer was born singing.’
The distinction may seem bizarre for a man who stormed the comedy scene at last year‘s l’ringe. narrowly missing otit on the coveted Perrier. But looking at this big. fleshy man crammed into leatherjacket and velvet flares you think. hell. fizzy water probably isn‘t his bag anyhow. And the Vegas show has little in common with the usual crap-shag/have-you-ever-noticed/ain‘t -tabs- cool stand-tip terrain.
For one thing — get this — he‘s a character. Johnny Vegas is a working-men‘s club star from the 70s who kept the togs btit lost the audience in the 80s. Now it‘s the 90s and he’s on the comeback trail. For two things. not many stand-tip routines climax with live pottery maunfacture and a mass singalong of ‘New York. New York‘ led by the performer from a spinning. clay-spattered potter‘s wheel. As he says.
72 THE LIST 6—19 Feb 1998
‘Sod off. but love me': is Johnny Vegas a Southern softy at heart?
’Comedians are money~ grabbing accountants who’ve discovered a way of making money, but an entertainer was born singing.’ Johnny Vegas
‘there's nowt better than when a roomful of people are on their feet.‘
So prepare. then. to be entertained in just this manner when Vegas crosses the country on his Balls Of Clay tour. He’ll be fired up. you’ll be putty in his hands and a multitude of horrific clay puns will have magazine racks in newagents o’er the land groaning under the strain.
Life was not always this great for Johnny Vegas. First example: as a child. fancying himself as a man of the cloth. be enrolled at a seminary. Puberty tripped him up. ‘My body went through changes and I realised I didn’t want to be a priest. I wanted to do other things. I had urges.’ Second example: he moved
to Glasgow in I995 to work as MC at a pub games ‘
night. but when he got there it had packed in. Vegas spent three months getting pished in Bar Miro then headed for Manchester. ‘Glasgow seemed to have a comedy scene and as soon as I moved there it didn‘t.‘ he moans.
And then there‘s the bullying at school. the clash with tutors at college. the bad experiences with women. He‘s not just Jonah. he‘s the whole bleeding whale.
Things are looking tip now. but past misfortunes
leave a mark like . . . a fingerprint in clay. This explains the rage. the fury. : the vengeful wrath that characterises the first part of his show. ‘l’m exorcising.‘ he claims. ‘I was angry for a ; long time and now I‘ve found I a way of expressing it on stage.‘
So. hacks and hecklers get a hard time. soaked in his vitriol. But. honest guv. Johnny means no offence. ‘lt‘s a case of “sod off but love me".' he says. ‘By the end people should realise Johnny Vegas is just a bloke who wants to be liked. Needs to be loved. That’s the final icing on the comedy cake. I think I’m going to cry.
Johnny Vegas is at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Fri 20 Feb; Paisley Arts Centre. Sat 21 Feb and the iron Theatre. Glasgow, Sun 22 Feb.
Comedy is listed by date, then b
city. Shows will be listed, providing
that details reach our offices at least
ten da 5 in advance of publication.
game y listings compiled by Peter oss.
FRIDAY 6 Edinburgh The Stand The Tron Ceilidh House. Hunter Square. 226 ()93 l. ‘)~-l lpm. £5 (£4). Weekly. The Man In Pants and Alan McQueen should have you chuckling into your pint. Jane Mackay is the resident compete. Tonight's headliner is Robin lnce -- described in the national press as ‘a rising star shifting easily between The Smiths and hunt sabotage’ -- makes his Stand debut. See The Laughing Bag.
Cosy Comedy Cafe State liar (downstairs). Holland Street. ('haring Cross. 33?. 2|5‘). 9.30pm. £4. l’ortiiightly. Subterranean shenanigans at this regular. laid-back club. Martha Maclirier and Dave Williams are the comedians you can cosy tip to. Billy Bonkcrs compei'es.
Viv 8: Jill's Cabaret Club (iilded Balloon Studio. 333 (‘owgaltz 320 (i550, 8,3(lpiii (doors open 7.30pm). £5 (£4 l. Viv (ice and Jill Peacock invite you to Supermodel Night at their (‘abai'et (‘lub ()thei' Miss Worlds on the catwalk are Raymond Meai'iis. llipopei'a and (iordon (iraham.
The Comic Club Blackli’iai‘s Underground. 36 Bell Street. 553 5924. 0pm (doors open 8.30pm l. £5 (£3.50). Comedy returns to Blacktriars after a wee festive break. \"iv (ice is compete. and tonight‘s ninjas of laughter are Jo lleenan. James l)on|an and John (iordon.
Christie's Comedy Cellar WJ. (‘hrisne & Son. 27 3| West Port. Tickets: 328 3765. 9.30pm. £3. A brand new night called ('iimei/v ()[l The (ii/f sccs‘ local comedians working improvisation into their routines. lixpect a loose. experimental feel with lots of audience participationfl’he guest headliner is Welsh comic Noel James who describes himself as ‘stii't'eal. bizarre. absurd. intelligent. and yet. somehow. strangely
A busy woman: Janey Godley plays Mr P's, Paisley on Sat 14. Blackfriars. Glasgow on Sun 15 and Christie's, Edinburgh on Thu 19