Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/15
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleJohn Hegley interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Date23/06/1997
Duration1 hr. 22 min. 59 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 124)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionJohn Hegley interviewed by John Pidgeon at The Sound Company, London, for 'Talking Comedy', a BBC Radio 2 programme in which comedians talk about the people that make them laugh. This is the unedited interview, not the programme as broadcast.

Summary: [00:02] Recording begins, general chat between John Hegley [JH] and John Pidgeon [JP]
[02:52] JH starts by talking about the first things that made him laugh, being The Woodentops, Rag Tag and Bobtail, (which he compares to the Class Sketch with John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett), and The Flowerpot Men. [04:15] He says Andy Pandy and Picture Book weren’t as good.
[04:28] JH says that Charlie Drake was the first human who made him laugh. [05:42] JP wonders who Charlie Drake’s contemporaries would’ve been, [06:11] JH says Billy Bunter would’ve been around at the same time. [06:43] JP says that Richard O’Sullivan springs to mind as possibly being a contemporary.
[06:50] JP brings up Fawlty Towers. [07:06] JH brings up Benny Hill, and says he liked the slapstick. [07:32] JP asks JH whether he liked Les Dawson or Morecambe & Wise. [07:40] JH talks about Les Dawson. [08:06] Peter Glaze from Crackerjack, he mentions a Danny Baker programme about Peter Glaze.
[08:38] JH says that his brother used to like Dave Allen, and discusses him.
[09:27] JP asks when JH first became interested in wordplay. [09:32] JH says that Les Dawson would’ve been one of the first, because he’s accessible.
[10:10] JP brings up Monty Python, which JH says he wasn’t keen to start off with, he liked the “silly walk” and describes some of it as cerebral, and says John Cleese is funny.
[11:20] He doesn’t think having accolades makes one funny, and brings up the need for scriptwriters so that not every joke is about the celebrity lifestyle that audiences can’t relate to. [11:45] And he brings up an old Ken Dodd line about a comedian needing to know the price of plums.
[12:02] JP asks JH to tell him how his performing and writing career came about. [12:20] JH also thought that when he went into the entertainment industry that he was going to be a singer, and he used to busk and sing earnest songs. [12:50] JH says he wanted to be the next Roy Harper.
[13:38] He went to London and said he was rejected by Virgin, [14:12] then he got a job in kid’s theatre, which forced him to take out the earnestness of his songs, and made it more slapstick. [14:37] someone suggested he performed his work at The Comedy Store, Tony Green told him that Norman Lovett was singing songs there at the time, so he went down to try it out.
[15:00] He was gonged off five times. [15:53] People laughing at the adversity of Margaret Thatcher.
[18:23] JP talks about when the so-called “alternative circuit” started out that it was actually a very disparate and varied bunch of people, it wasn’t all French & Saunders or Alexei Sayle.
[19:00] JH loved the slapstick of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, but says he was introduced to “comedy of the mind” at the Comedy Club.
[19:16] Tony Allen was the compere for most of the time JH was there, with Ben Elton and Jim Barclay doing it sometimes as well. [19:53] JH talks about Andy de la Tour, anti-Thatcher and Reagan jokes. [20:22] He talks about a Jim Barclay joke about the Yorkshire Ripper.
[20:58] JP says that a lot of the Comedy Club acts didn’t make it, to which JH says that a surprising number of them did. [22:22] JP asks if JH thought the ones who appeared on TV would always be successful. [23:43] JH talks about seeing the Comedy Club on a Janet Street Porter programme.
[24:14] JP asks if there was any envy towards the people who became TV stars. [24:32] JH said he saw a Christmas show with his friend Andrew Bailey and felt envious.
[25:24] JH says he didn’t watch a lot of television, and watches a bit more now. [25:42] JH talks about seeing Harry Hill’s TV show. [26:00] JP mentions JH’s friend Helen Lederer.
[27:08] JH talks about seeing Sean Lock live. [28:32] JH mentions Otiz Cannelloni. [28:50] Andrew Bailey. [30:14] JP talks about seeing Jason Byrne live, and how when he met Graham Linehan they had completely different opinions on him.
[30:47] JP talks about seeing two different Irish comedians, Eddie Bannon and Mark Doherty both coincidentally doing Irish folk covers of pop songs. [31:53] JH talks about seeing Spike Milligan last night and did the same joke as him. [32:30] JH talks about Helen Lederer on last night and how saying “apparently” with the right comic timing got her massive laughs. [32:56] JP briefly mentions Eddie Izzard.
[33:09] JH talks about the lyrical content of Spike Milligan, and wonders why so many comedians think they have to only be funny. [33:41] JH briefly mentions Bill Hicks as someone using comedy to make serious points. [33:50] JH talks about Bill Hicks’ jokes about Christianity, and mentions how Father Ted does it in a more gentle way.
[34:46] JP talks about Bill Hicks, and how he personally wouldn’t normally go along with the things he says but does because there is the promise of jokes.
[35:33] JH talks about comedy that has something to say, undermining expectations and don’t be earnest, [35:49] JH talks about a joke Kit Hollerbach did at the Hackney Empire. [36:36] JH said that when he was learning French, he will have achieved something the day he has understood a French joke.
[36:56] JH talks about the songs of Serge Gainsbourg. [37:57] JH quotes Adrian Mitchell saying they should ban poetry in schools then the kids might read it. [38:11] JH talks about Bresson.
[38:30] JP brings up Jo Brand, JH talks about the liberation of talking about sexuality and how we take it for granted, and how someone like Peter Glaze couldn’t do that 15 years ago.
[39:33] JH talks about Fawlty Towers, and how it appealed to everyone. [40:08] JH says The Beatles crossed boundaries. [40:30] JH talks about John Cooper Clarke, [40:45] did a very good poem about Martin Newell.
[41:52] JP brings up the fact that JH has featured Morrissey and Elvis Costello, JH talks about Elvis Costello’s image, championing the underdog, and says that Buddy Holly probably didn’t set out to look like a nerd. [43:38] JH talks about Morrissey, and how he gave folky lyrics a pop sound.
[45:00] JP says that JH’s song “Eddie Don’t Like Furniture” is both funny and a good pop song.
[45:55] JP says one of his favourite comic songs is Noel Coward’s reworking of “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love”, [46:21] JP also brings up Victoria Wood’s “Let’s Do It” song. [46:30] JH says he enjoys some of Victoria Wood’s songs, but says that having a stand-up delivery helps.
[47:43] JP compares the audience reactions to Noel Coward and Billy Connolly. [47:59] JH talks about Billy Connolly’s songs, and says that the best humour enlightens the audience.
[49:15] JP asks JH if he thinks Eddie Izzard wants to do more than just make people laugh, to which JH says there is sometimes a historic, educational objective in some of Eddie Izzard’s routines.
[49:55] JP plays the clips. [50:55-] Charlie Drake [51:08-51:42] Fawlty Towers [51:53] JH says he’d never realised how much John Cleese sounds like Angus Deayton before. [52:19-52:56] Helen Lederer [53:36-54:11] Jo Brand [56:01-56:26] Bill Hicks [57:26] JP mentions a similar joke by Lenny Bruce [58:55] JP also brings up an Eddie Izzard joke [59:15-59:55] Eddie Izzard [01:00:06] JH talks about the poetic use of language in comedy, bringing up Bill Bailey and Simon Pegg as examples. [01:00:39] JH talks about a New Zealand comic he met called Ewen Gilmour. [01:01:13-01:02:27] Bill Bailey [01:02:55-01:03:20] John Cooper Clarke? [01:03:31-01:04:13] Sean Lock [01:05:04-01:05:51] The Smiths Morrissey [01:08:27-01:08:43] Elvis Costello [01:09:27] JP mentions how he always had a problem with mannered singers like Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry, and Morrissey. [01:11:30] JH goes through a few more names on his list, talks about Jeremy Hardy. [01:12:30] JH talks about an article that Ivor Dembina wrote in The Guardian. [01:13:26] Ivor Dembina talking about Ian Cognito. [01:14:07] JH quotes Jimi Hendrix. [01:21:26] JH records the links
[01:22:41] Recording ends
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a PC running Windows; SPDIF connection via RME PCI card. Digitisation engineer Adrian Finn, Greatbear analogue & digital media ltd. Digital file topped and tailed.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsThis recording is available for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU for study/research purposes only. Access to audio-visual recordings is through digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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