Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/16
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleBill Bailey interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Date09/07/1997
Duration1 hr. 16 min. 13 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 124)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionBill Bailey 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: [00:00] Recording starts. General chatter between Bill Bailey [BB] and John Pidgeon [JP] before the interview begins
[03:55] Interview starts. JP asks BB who first made him laugh. [04:11] BB brings up the Two Ronnies and Morecambe & Wise.
[05:23] JP asks BB what comedy he first discovered for himself. BB talks about somebody playing him a Derek & Clive record and listening to Monty Python records with his brothers.
[06:20] BB said that his first live comedy show he saw was Jimmy Edwards. [07:05] JP talks about seeing Spike Milligan. [07:40] JP asks BB if he discovered Peter Cook & Dudley Moore via Derek & Clive and discovered the TV show latterly, and discusses them
[08:50] BB talks about a Peter Cook interview on Parkinson, who he describes as being a naturally funny person.
[09:45] JP asks BB who else he thinks falls into the category of “naturally funny”. BB mentions Eric Morecambe, Woody Allen, Spike Milligan, [10:06] Larry Sanders, Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison in character.
[10:30] JP mentions doing a programme with Greg Proops on a regular basis, where he talks about a friend of his in LA involved with the Larry Sanders show, who says that Larry Sanders is Garry Shandling, and Rip Torn is Artie.
[11:26] BB talks about Larry Sanders, which he tapes along with The Simpsons and Seinfeld. [11:45] He talks about one of his favourite shows featuring William Shatner as a guest.
[12:44] JP talks about Garry Shandling presenting the Grammies. [13:15] BB says he was talking to Greg Proops who said one of his favourites was Bob Hope, presenting the Oscars.
[13:44] JP asks about division between American and British comedians. BB describes it as self-deprecating British comedians and polished slick American comedians.
[16:59] BB brings up seeing Emo Phillips perform live at the Apollo in Harlem in New York, and brings up that he was one of the first white comedians to ever perform there.
[17:40] JP says that Emo Philips is one of the most unlikely people to ever perform there. BB mentions Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor as more likely acts to play there.
[18:02] JP brings up Steven Wright, and BB brings up an anecdote where Steve Wright borrowed his guitar, and talks about his style of comedy. [21:24] BB says Julian Cope also borrowed his guitar earlier that week.
[22:00] JP talks about going to the Kilkenny Comedy Festival, and seeing lots of people doing bits of music, and asks BB whether it’s a trend. [23:27] BB says that there has been a long history of music in comedy, dating back to vaudeville acts and old cabaret acts.
[23:45] BB talks about the phrase “new variety” bandied around for about 10-15 years to refer to modern stand-up comedy.
[24:26] BB brings up Victor Borge, and how he was in complete contrast to people’s perception of classical music, mentioning the hushed tones of Richard Baker at the Proms.
[25:41] BB compares Victor Borge to Albert Brooks, and mentions being compared to Albert Brooks himself.
[27:00] JP asks how BB developed his act. BB says he’d always been musical since he was young, so it seemed natural for him to use a guitar in his comedy act. [27:37] He brings up Not The Nine O’Clock News, Monty Python, and Neil Innes as being influential comedy songs.
[27:51] BB talks about being in a double act called the Rubber Bishops, and using the guitar in that act, mentions that he has gone to use keyboards in his act as well, and says that he’s always followed the comedy acts with greater interest because of inevitable comparisons.
[28:30] JP asks what the inevitable comparisons were, to which he says the first one was Victor Borge, because he deconstructed classical music standards in a comedic way too, Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Bach Prelude, Mozart, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
[29:36] BB says that he’s tried to use other sources such as film soundtracks and the lives of session musicians, and says that Albert Brooks does something similar in his act.
[30:15] JP brings up Les Dawson as someone who subverts classic musical, such as Tchaikovsky, which became BB’s party piece for the family, and learnt about the power of comedy from his parents’ reactions.
[32:37] JP mentions John Hegley initially wanting to be a musician, but it was only when he got into children’s theatre where he introduced levity to the act. JP describes him as like Elvis Costello.
[33:14] JP asks where BB first saw John Hegley. BB says in a club called the Earth Exchange on the Archway Road in North London in the basement of a hippie-run commune in the 1980s. It was one of the first stand-up shows he’d ever seen, because there wasn’t stand-up comic nights in Bath where he grew up.
[35:14] John Hegley did an act with Otiz Canneloni, called the Brown Paper Bag Brothers, and it was one of the reasons BB got into stand-up. [35:40] JP talks about seeing the Walkert Nation in Bath, and saw Pete McCarthy.
[36:25] JP brings up Spinal Tap and asks BB how he come across it. [38:06] BB mentions that Ozzy Osborne watched it and apparently thought it was a real documentary. [40:25] JP talks about going to a trade show in Anaheim, at the Marshall stand there was a huge queue for Nigel Tufnel signing autographs.
[41:28] JP says that Bill Hicks has been the most requested comedian for his series, and asks how BB came across him. BB saw him on video performing at the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road, and admired the atmospheric aesthetics which matched his dark style.
[43:08] BB talks about Eric Bagosian saying in an interview for many, stand-up was a means to an end, for Bill Hicks it was the end.
[45:02] BB talks about Bill Hicks performing on the David Letterman show and being very uncompromising and not wanting to cut anything out of his act.
[46:00] JP compares Bill Hicks to Sam Kinison, and BB says that they were similar in their style, attitude and the fact that they are both dead now. Bill Bailey talks about Sam Kinison’s style.
[47:28] BB brings up Andrew Dice Clay, who tries to do the same sort of uncompromising, frank and deliberately offensive form of stand-up, but without any of the charm.
[49:40] JP brings up Arthur Askey
[50:06] Clips [50:30-51:47] Albert Brooks [52:26-53:40] Larry Sanders/Garry Shandling. [54:16] JP mentions that in the last episode of the upcoming series the character gets sacked [54:42] and BB brings up the last episode of Roseanne doing a similar thing. [55:11-56:11] Steven Wright [56:21-57:17] Morecambe & Wise [57:24] BB says it sounds just like the Clitheroe Kid
[58:27-59:24] Spinal Tap clip [01:00:21-01:01:12] Emo Philips clip [01:03:38-01:04:24] Two Ronnies [01:04:26-01:05:51] Sam Kinison [01:06:01] JP brings up Laurel and Hardy, and BB talks about them. [01:08:56] JP brings up Woody Allen, but says that he can’t get the rights to any clips from the films, which BB apparently specified. BB discusses Woody Allen. [01:11:25] JP gets BB to record the links.
[01:16:00] Recording ends
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a Mac running MacOS; 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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