Depite the success of intergalactic TV series Red Dwarf, CRAIG CHARLES knows how to keep his feet firmly on the earth — doing stand-up comedy in front of a live crowd at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Words: Mark Robertson
ace . a...‘
I 'THE FIRST TIME I DID IT, IT WAS FOR 21 DAYS IN THE
Assembly Rooms and that nearly bloody killed me.‘ states a perplexed Craig Charles 'We sold out and lost money. How is that fucking possible‘."
This perhaps goes some way to explain Charles‘s extended sojourn from the Fringe. After making his debut in I988 with his first one-man show. it has taken him eleven years to return. ‘The Perrier people issued a statement that year saying people like me and Harry Enfield were not going to be included in the competition because we were deemed too successful. That year they gave the Perrier Award to Arnold Brown. who was in his fifteenth year at the Fringe. I always thought the Perrier was to encourage new talent. but obviously not.‘
Craig Charles is. to say the least. a very busy wee man. While some may mock his wussy two-date appearance at this year‘s Fringe. the programme of activity surrounding said gigs is substantial. A 66-date tour, a new series of the BBC show Robot Wars. and only then is there time for the Red Dwarf movie. ‘Keeps me out of trouble. mate.‘ he confides. ‘I like the work and am fortunate enough to be in a business that allows you to do as many things as you possibly can as long as you do them reasonably well.‘
He must be doing something right because. since his first appearance in 1988 as Lister in Red Dwarf. Charles has rarely been off our screens. Appearances on programmes from Saturdav Night Live to a chat show for [TV last year has confirmed his status as a perennial TV all-rounder.
He was also crowned king of the geeks when. in addition to Red Dwarf, he took on the presenter‘s role on Robot Wars. the original Meccano builders‘ game show. Despite his high televisual profile. Charles saves his fondest words for the comedy stage. ‘My favourite is the
24 THE usr 19—25 Aug 1999
stand-up. No one can tell you you‘re not funny when you‘ve got 2.000 people in front of you. laughing at you.‘
Charles has toured his live show pretty much throughout the 90s. attempting to reaffirm the idea that he has always been a stand-up first. a TV star second. His past adventures provide a wealth of material. ‘I try to talk about things other stand-ups don‘t.‘ be stresses. 'I talk about being in jail. the police. the press. sex and relationships from an angle that other people can‘t.‘
Content now to push his family man image instead of the wild side lifestyle. Charles is keen to point out he always travels with family in tow. ‘I‘m 35 now; in dog years I‘m dead. I suppose people think I‘m some kind of rock ‘n‘ roll animal because of the press I‘ve received. The image is important and. if people want that. then you‘ve
got to rive them it. But then ou . . go honie and change nappies find ll ta'k about be'ng In make the lea-f jail, the police, the The coming months look pretty jam-packed for Charles. press! sex and relationships from an angle that other
but he‘s not afraid to look even
further ahead. With ambitions to I I . people can t. Craig Charles
launch a series of Red Dwarf films akin to Star Trek. be fully realises the scale of his fame.
‘Red Dwarf is huge all over the world.‘ he acknowledges. ‘and I‘ve been dubbed into dozens of languages. But I still don‘t know what‘s Japanese for smeg.‘ Some things are best left unknown.
Still Live On Earth (Fringe) Craig Charles, Queen's Hall (Venue 72) 668 2019/credit card 667 7776, 24—25 Aug, 10.30pm, £12 (£10).