LEE EVANS, the little-boy-lost from Southend, has taken the notorious perils of Hollywood in his loose-limbed stride. Another big live tour, though — that's where the pitfalls and pratfalls lie waiting.
Words: Danny Wallace
l.lili liVANS S'I‘Rll)liS purposefully into the room. throws me a prima donna sneer. knoeks the notes from my lap and storms out again screaming something about ’the wrong brand of mineral water".
No he doesn’t.
l.ee liyans stumbles and fumbles his way through the door. trips on the rug and falls. yelling. onto the eoffee table. flipping biseuits into the air that land. one by one. in a neat. teetering pile on his head.
No he doesn‘t.
l.ee liyans sits. well dressed and neatly groomed. his suit iron—fresh and his tie a sombre blaek. He‘s not the hollow Hollywood robot he should be by now. haying worked alongside the likes of Hruee Willis. ('hristopher \Valken. (‘ameroii [MM and Steyen Spielberg. .-\nd nor is he the relentless. gaghungry elown. striying for the slap—sehtiek laughs on and off the stage. He‘s just a bloke. But the sight of l.ee liyans. in eyeryday surroundings. wearing a formal suit. hints at a new kind of maturity for the Southend lad who used to elean toilets for money.
‘lt etittltl tlliye you round the bend. llollyyyootl . . .' he says. ’llere I am. a pleb. a eomplete idiot. and I‘m
12 THE llST .‘ ' '99?»
standing there while (‘hristopher Walken is getting into eharaetet‘ with his mad. staring eyes. and then Spielberg pops his head around the door. and a big star like Nathan lane is singing a Broadway musical to my left . . . It was a freakshow. I mean. I'm from lingland. what the hell was I doing there'."
'fhat‘s easy. He was starring in .l/UIIH’IIIHII. his latest film. which has been uneasily described as a kids‘ moyie for adults. ‘lt can be quite dark. yeah.” .\lmm. Within fiye minutes of the film's opening titles. l.ee manages to drop a eollitt tloyy it a flight of stairs. The stiff eorpse flips 50 feet in the air. lands down a manhole and finds its own way to a watery graye. 'lt‘s not what you‘d eall your uremgt' kids‘ film.' he admits. It‘s ‘l‘om and Jerry meets laurel and Hardy. .Iln/‘nm/ llmpilu/ meets Home .rl/mu'. with a touch (if [Ii/1U IZ-UIH’I'X/ [tissetl it].
’II was daunting. btit not seary. doing a big moy ie like this. y'know.’ Seary is Sheffield on a 'luesday night with .itlt) people e\peeting you to make ‘em piss ’emselyes laughing. In faet. I‘d say stand-up eomedy is more daunting than any of this Hollywood stuff.‘
So what‘s it like. performing Iiye in a
eountry that ney er quite tllttlet‘sttmd where llarry Hill was eoming from. that treats a publie appearanee by John lnman as the Second (‘oming. that watched in stunned silenee after l)a\'id l.etterman introduced some linglish bloke with nail \arnish ealled ‘liddie liee and”)
'()h. British etitltetly isn‘t doing so badly out there.‘ says liyans. "l'he .’\merieans tend to be a lot more enthusiastic as an audience. I did gigs in l..:\. and New York and plaees like that. and what I found was that they‘ll agree with what you're saying. only they’ll do it out loud.
I suppose it's like. they eheer you on. while the Brits. . . well . . . they lmu you on.~ l.ee is about to embark on a whole new national stand-up tour. where he‘ll be booed on nightly in the eream of the eountry's theatres ineluding (ilasgow Royal ('oneert llall this fortnight. ‘And I can't wait. I‘m always working. y‘see. I'm not an ambitious bloke. l neyer haye been. But I do like to work. and I can’t sit still. I spend my eyenings tip in my room. just writing. I wrote .so much new stuff while we were doing .l/nlrw'l/lllll. and lately l‘ye
been popping down to the (‘omedy
Store to try and get it all right. It'll be a two-hour show so He got to work at it. got to get the right gags.‘
You can trust this: he will work at it. After winning the l’errier Award in l‘)‘)3. l.ee was performing at tip to fiye clubs a night. determined to ‘keep my mates on the circuit happy‘. In doing so. he opened the door to a mental breakdown from which he took months to reeoyer.
Now. though. he looks prepared for it all. A powerful eonfidenee underlies that familiar
‘It could drive you round the bend, Hollywood. I'm standing there whilst Christopher Walken is getting into character with his mad, staring eyes, and then Spielberg pops his head around the door.’
happy r-go»ltteky. Iittle—boy-lost eharm. l’lus. he‘s wearing that \ery grow n-up suit.
'()|i. this'." he says. '.\'ah. l‘m changing baek into me jeans now. I don‘t wear suits. l was only wearng this ~eos l was talking to
journalists today. I‘m same as I always was.
Lee Evans plays Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 15 April. See Comedy listings, page 66. MouseHunt is released on Friday 3 April. See review, page 31.