Ahead of bringing his brand new show Larks in Transit to the East of England Arena in Peterborough in June, ESP’s comedy columnist Sarah Slack spoke to musical comedy legend Bill Bailey.
The full interview will be published in the May issue of ESP Magazine, but for now here’s a sneak preview:
Thanks very much for taking the time out to chat to ESP – I know you’ve previously featured in bird watching shows as it’s one of your hobbies, so was this the inspiration behind the name of your new tour?
“It’s a passing reference to birds in flight, but the title refers more to the Dickensian definition of larks as fun. It’s all about the fun of travel and the situations that have happened to me in the last few years of doing comedy. Also the title is my philosophy of life, which is you have to get as much fun out of it every day you can, because as Stephen Hawking said, we’re always in transient fluctuations.”
Some of my favourite moments of your past shows are the musical numbers, like the Kraftwerk Hokey Cokey ending from Part Troll, as well as the Billy Bragg Chip Shop song. Can you tell us a bit more about the songs you’ve got lined up for Larks in Transit?
“There’s a song I play on a cigar box guitar, which has been fashioned from an old Bible and it makes a wonderful sound, so I sing a song about duelling with the devil similar to ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Another acquisition for this tour is a wonderful instrument that’s been made for me by a craftsman down in Taunton. It’s a steel pan, so like a steel drum, but it’s convex instead of concave so you play the indentions by hand rather than with little beaters.”
One of my favourite parts of the Part Troll DVD is an Extra feature, which you described as the ‘2004 mainland UK census of tea, coffee and trouser presses’. Are you planning an update for 2018?
“I always like making DVD extras, and after years of touring around everywhere you would go to hotels and find the tea and coffee making facilities and the trouser press, so I ended up comparing and contrasting them everywhere I went. Some places had the most ingenious ways of displaying biscuits on tiny little shelves…
“Trouser presses have started to disappear from hotel rooms now, so maybe there’s a sociological reason where fewer people are staying in hotels where they want their trousers pressed, or to do with a decline in public standards, or whether the workplace has become more casual so people don’t need to have their trousers pressed anymore!
“A lot of hotel rooms have an iron and an ironing board sometimes instead of a trouser press, and I have discovered if you order a hotel pizza but it’s not warm enough, you can heat it up with the iron, so that’s a good tip.”
Bill Bailey will be performing Larks In Transit at the East of England Arena on Saturday June 9. Tickets available on Ticketmaster or by calling 01733 363500.
Photos: Andy Hollingworth